High marks for looks, sounds and overall design. Totally terrific for toddlers.


From the Frubeez series

From Down Under, a deliciously alliterative barrage of sounds and silly pests.

First of a planned alphabet of mini-tales dubbed “frubeez,” this introduces a spiky green chap with big googly eyes whose efforts to sit down to tea are delayed by sightings of an aptly named Ticky Tick, a chattering Tuttlezest (“being a pest!”), Tittletants in dirty pants (with ants) and several like annoyances. Silkscreened in bright, solid primary colors, the grimacing figures all resemble attractively ugly sock toys, and each features a distinct, often amusingly alimentary gurgle or other touch-activated sound. Ted can likewise be tapped any time to elicit a roll of the eyes and a brief comment. Constructed in a simple repeating question-and-answer pattern with a running refrain of “itchy, twitchy, scritchy, scratchy!” the short text appears as a word or three per line on each screen. In a clever version of a “read it yourself” option, it is not read aloud by its cheery Aussie narrator unless tapped each time, making the connection between sound and text crystal clear for children and laying the foundations for literacy. The pages load almost instantaneously, and though there is no shortcut back to the beginning, arrows on each screen lead forward or backward. A collective chorus of creature noises plus a snatch of lively music brings this crowd pleaser to a strong close.

High marks for looks, sounds and overall design. Totally terrific for toddlers. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 17, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Frubeez

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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


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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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


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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