A short set of visual puzzles, closer in overall complexity to Richard Scarry than Where’s Waldo.

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OUR BIG CITY

From the Look and Find Books series

A pioneer of the “busy, busy crowd scene” style of illustration slips into the digital domain with tablet versions of several classic titles—including this low-key but involving example.

Viewers can zoom in and pan around seven screens, each an angled aerial view of several dozen active people in an airport, zoo, swimming pool, city intersection or other town setting. There is no animation, but along with quiet crowd and traffic background noises, many figures will respond to taps with exclamations, giggles or other sounds. These are signaled, strangely, by a flurry of visible musical notes, though except for a busker in one scene, there is no music. As an ongoing test of visual memory, children can collect stars by using a feature that opens a set of albums on each screen with “snapshots” of fine details in the larger scenes to spot and capture with a roving “camera.” Signs on shops and elsewhere change according to which of the five European languages is selected at the beginning, but in a translator’s bobble, one scene is titled “On the Market” in English. Less fixable are the antique cassette-tape players, on-shoulder video cameras and other period details in the art. Still, Mitgutsch’s cartoon figures are clear and sharply focused at any magnification and their jobs or activities easy to follow.

A short set of visual puzzles, closer in overall complexity to Richard Scarry than Where’s Waldo. (iPad seek-and-find app. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Ravensburger Digital

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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