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

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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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