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

I AM AN ASTRONAUT!

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 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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