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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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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