Though not quite the equal of Loud Crow’s spectacular Beatrix Potter adaptations, this does give the tale a fresh...

THE ANIMATED TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY

Benjamin leads his sick cousin Peter into another traumatic outing to Mr. McGregor’s garden in this cozy if not quite streamlined digital rendition of the 1904 classic.

Designed to look like an early print edition, in landscape orientation, each screen shows two antiqued “pages,” with text placed on the left and on the right, an elaborately animated version of the original illustration. In portrait mode, only the enlarged illustrations are visible, and the effect is even more movielike; the figures have even been lip-synced with the narration. Within layered settings that move independently to create a 3-D impression, Benjamin, a wilted-looking Peter, the cat that traps the two interlopers under a basket for five hours and Benjamin’s pipe-smoking, switch-wielding father move from multiple joints like expertly manipulated marionettes. There are no sound effects, but a piano chimes in the background as an expressive narrator (optionally) reads, and there is a self-record option too. At four points, the story pauses distractingly to offer readers a jigsaw puzzle, and for all the sophisticated design within the art, the page turns are stiff and jerky.

Though not quite the equal of Loud Crow’s spectacular Beatrix Potter adaptations, this does give the tale a fresh reboot—respectful enough to retain the full text with its corporal punishment and smoking references. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The Wundershop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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