Transitions aside, a smoothly designed diversion, with plenty of child appeal and definite vocabulary-building potential.

CUDDLEFISH FRIENDS

AN UNDERWATER INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE

Light washes of natural science flavor this hypersweet tale of a polka-dot cuttlefish and friends at play on a coral reef.

Cecil the cuttlefish, “wig-wagging past the sea anemones, over the tunicates,” meets his royal friend, Justin the sea horse, and other playmates at the Grand Palais de Coral. There, they “pal around among the gentry” and have a sleepover after enjoying “the best plankton shakes this side of the prime meridian!” Depicted Finding Nemo style in glowing colors with rounded, babyish bodies and anthropomorphic faces, the aquatic figures change color, throw sand, belch or giggle at a tap as they float through elaborately finished marine settings and palace chambers. Along with a spirited (optional) audio reading, tapping any word in the scrolling text produces a vocalization—though not a definition: Readers hazy on, for instance, the differences between “sea anemones” and “tunicates” will need to look elsewhere. Moreover the screen blacks out briefly (except for a seashell “loading” icon) between illustrations, and there is no index to allow selecting scenes or starting over.

Transitions aside, a smoothly designed diversion, with plenty of child appeal and definite vocabulary-building potential. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: SuperBot Entertainment and Section Studios

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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