Cabby could use a little less catnip and lot more refining. (iPad storybook app. 6-10)

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CABBY CAT & THE MISSING CELLO

After leaving his cello in the trunk of a cab, a world-renowned musician enlists help to recover his prized instrument.

This scattered storybook app has plenty of character and a few nice technological twists, but it’s so weighed down with peripheral stimuli and superfluous content that getting through it is downright laborious. Mo-Mo Ya, a pig, leaves his cello in the trunk of Cabby Cat’s taxi. A band of street musicians, the Hound Dogs, covets the million-dollar instrument and steals it out of the cab. Ya and his entourage track the thieves down, forgive everything and then immediately form a band and play a two-hour concert. The story is allegedly based on true events, but the narrative has so many gaps, it’s not easily swallowed. On the plus side, the 3-D rotation and zooming add a unique flair, and the rendition of Elgar’s Cello Concerto is fabulous. Several New York landmarks are highlighted with brief, pop-up history lessons, and the personality of the Big Apple shines throughout. Certain tasks, several of which are inane (a color-identification game at Ya’s hotel check-in desk, for instance), must be performed before an arrow appears to advance to the next page. At times the dreadful, rhymed text doesn’t match narration, and sentences that are split over page turns often require backtracking to determine context. The app does not work on first-generation iPads.

Cabby could use a little less catnip and lot more refining. (iPad storybook app. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 28, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: 2Dads in Brooklyn

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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ZATHURA

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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