Thoughtful design features make this an inclusive story that will resonate with many young children.

I IMAGINE

Children will enjoy becoming the stars of this customizable story, creating different versions for repeated readings.

The story presents a familiar scenario, as a parent juggles “a mountain of work” while a child asks for some playtime, but the highlight is how readers create their own characters. “We’re going to put you, a grown-up who looks after you, and a toy into the words and pictures of this story,” the female British narrator prompts. The app instructions direct children to record their characters’ names and choose gender, skin tone, hair color and outfit. They also give their characters faces by using a supplied cartoon illustration, taking selfies with the iPad camera or accessing saved photos. These design features make this a very inclusive story, allowing for combinations that reflect readers’ lives and imaginations. It should be noted that the characters’ middle-class domicile is not customizable. The rhyming dialogue does not quite flow smoothly with the recorded names, but children will enjoy seeing their hand-built characters in the story. In the end, the protagonist gives up on the parent, creating instead an imaginary game with the doll, realizing, “I’m good at finding games to play for two instead of one. / With my imaginary friend I have a lot more fun.”

Thoughtful design features make this an inclusive story that will resonate with many young children. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bizzibrains

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.

GOD GAVE US EASTER

From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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