Not much for plot or special features, but the engagingly ugly monster(s) will draw chortles.



A customizable monster and silly sound effects aplenty make a story that is, at best, perfunctory seem more or less forgivable.

Thanks to its resident monster—which viewers create at the outset by tapping a stocky figure that features 10 interchangeable hairy, slimy or otherwise monstrous heads, bodies, legs and arms—the mountain town of Greebley is a popular tourist destination. Until, that is, the short-sighted residents, infuriated by the monster’s damage to flowerbeds and buildings, drive it away. When economic depression strikes the suddenly deserted town, the complainers, who “felt sorry for treating the Greebley Greebley so badly,” coax it back. Party time! Along with a loop of classical music and crowd noises in the background, tapping figures in the cartoon illustrations sets off camera clicks, exclamations in chipmunk voices, echoing howls and, from the sad monster, hilariously juicy sobs and sniffs. A “home” icon on each page lets readers remake the monster any time, but they are left to discover on their own that page turns require tapping or swiping the lower corners. Furthermore, there is no animation or audio narration.

Not much for plot or special features, but the engagingly ugly monster(s) will draw chortles. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Ginger Whale

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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