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I AM AN ASTRONAUT!

It's fun being an astronaut, but the vastness of the galaxy would seem to demand a little more investigation than this app...

A cute-enough, toy-filled app about space with one killer gimmick, this trip to the cosmos seems more like a quick orbit than any kind of deep exploration.

The app's opening page features an astronaut floating in space, the large area inside the helmet left blank, to be filled with a photo of the reader. Using the iPad's camera, a quick snapshot can be manipulated to fill the helmet, which will then appear in later pages. Once the photo is set, the app becomes an interactive, cheerfully illustrated set of pages leading to the inevitable countdown and liftoff. Readers learn what astronauts take on a mission (pizza and cupcakes are on the list, apparently) and play with a set of dials, buttons and a steering wheel. The photo appears in the helmet a few times, including a spacewalk encounter with a three-eyed, friendly alien. But just as the app gets going, the trip is over, ended with a close-up of the reader's face in the spacecraft's window and the text, "That's YOU!" The app has serviceable narration and can be heard in English and Dutch. But it could have used more than 12 pages of quick-moving setup and little-to-no story.

It's fun being an astronaut, but the vastness of the galaxy would seem to demand a little more investigation than this app provides. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tizio BV

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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