By taking a kitchen-sink approach, Penguin has made a fine, abundant app that easily earns its official status. But there's...

THE ORIGINAL TALE OF PETER RABBIT

While it's not the most elegant, magical app translation of Beatrix Potter's most famous work, this expansive edition throws in everything it can to reproduce and enhance the original text.

Penguin Group, the owners of F. Warne, the original publishers of the distinctive, diminutive book, takes great pains in an opening screen to let readers know that this is "The Original Tale of Peter Rabbit™." A little later, readers learn it is "The original and authorized edition." It smacks of insecurity, given that there's already a lovely, nearly perfect version in the App Store developed by Loud Crow Interactive. While the story and illustrations are done in a standard-issue paper-book format with optional narration and nominal animation, the extras are what make this version stand apart. Four sets of games—including matching, a "Hide Peter" game, "Hungry Bunny," which involves catching falling food, and a coloring option—are all expertly put together. But the stand-out feature is a set of four locations—the toolshed, the burrow, the wood and the vegetable garden—that readers can explore from the main menu or from within the story when a button for that area appears. The source material, of course, is always worth a read, but what in the hands of Loud Crow seemed revelatory (it set the standard for such adaptations), in this adaptation feels predictably by-the-numbers.

By taking a kitchen-sink approach, Penguin has made a fine, abundant app that easily earns its official status. But there's a better app out there that makes reading the story even more enjoyable and that makes this one pale in comparison. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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