A pleasantly gothic pleaser for fans of Unfortunate Events.

GRIMSTONES

In nine chatty letters, young Martha Grimstone introduces her peculiar family, describes the creation and hatching of three-legged little brother Crumpet, and fervently urges readers to write back.

This epistolary narrative has been spun off from a puppet performance and comes with inset photos of Tim Burton–style papier-mâché puppets in elaborately crafted antique settings and animations that range from a circling ring of quail to words that drop to the bottom of the page with a crash. There are also several full-screen interludes in which Martha—moving and gesturing like a marionette—beckons eerily to viewers, dumps potion ingredients into a pot or has a tap-activated exchange with her alchemist grandfather Elcho. She chattily shares hopes and dreams (“You never know, one day I could be the Lady of the Strongest Intestines in the Whole World”) as well as a string of domestic disasters or oddball incidents. In doing so, she repeatedly invites her readers to respond. Responses might in fact be mandatory; in one setting, each letter after the first is locked until the day after an answering letter is composed on a preformatted "Write Back" page. This can be toggled so that Martha writes regardless of readers' correspondence habits. There is no audio narration, but the app is supplied with sound effects and an optional background piano track.

A pleasantly gothic pleaser for fans of Unfortunate Events. (series website) (iPad storybook app. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: X Asphyxia

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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