More a memento than a spinoff that will stand on its own—and readers who have seen the movie will be disappointed at how...

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DESPICABLE ME: STORYBOOK

A drastically abbreviated version of the 2010 film, with occasional interactive elements and a pair of mildly entertaining side features.

The app preserves the story arc, in which bad guy Gru uses a stolen Shrink Ray to cop the Moon, loses both to rival evil inventor Vector, adopts three little orphan girls to get them back and ends up a besotted foster dad. It strips out most of the action, dialogue and physical comedy, however. The “Storybook” feature is made up of slow-to-load individual scenes that pan, zoom or show small animations as a reader delivers the terse narrative (voiced narration cannot be turned off). Though the text can be whisked into or out of sight with a tap, and some of the animations are activated by a finger swipe or in one case a shake of the tablet, viewers are otherwise relegated to the role of passive observers. A return to the main menu leads either to a trio of animated invention “blueprints” with lines that can be filled in by rubbing or a portrait gallery with audio selections of cast members’ hyperbolically delivered exclamations and bon mots.

More a memento than a spinoff that will stand on its own—and readers who have seen the movie will be disappointed at how much has been left out. (iPad movie tie-in app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Trill Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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