It's a story that feels too gimmicky and slight to engage readers deeply within a game structure that doesn't offer much...

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THE GUARDIANS

A choose-your-own-adventure app filled with animals and quests to determine the reader's values is ambitious, but not nearly varied enough to hold up to repeated readings.

In a world that has fallen into fear after being overtaken by a vague force referred to as the "Darkness," the reader takes the role of a Guardian tasked with acting as a savior. A set of short, branching stories involve talking to animals about ways to combat the Darkness. A bear, for instance, wants to use brute force, but other creatures are either ambivalent or only on board with the crusade once they're helped out of a jam. It's an intriguing premise, but the execution is much more limited than even the most basic adventure computer games of two decades ago. Choices are usually limited to two options, and one option is usually wrong. Playing through this game of a story only two or three times reveals the right path to avoid the story's pitfalls, and the ending varies only slightly based on the reader's choices. The artwork, at least, is distinctive and varied, with clever design work giving life to frogs, snakes, sneaky foxes and other animals. There's also a set of achievements to be earned based on decisions made in the story with values assigned like "being healthy," "being brave" or "being honest and fair." There's a nugget of a great idea in the app, but it feels far too short and limited to be truly immersive. Its constant repetition of references to the menacing Darkness begins to lose its power after the first dozen or so mentions, too.  

It's a story that feels too gimmicky and slight to engage readers deeply within a game structure that doesn't offer much challenge or reason for repeated reads. (iPad storybook app. 5-10) 

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Nekudat Mifne

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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