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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It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve


How do you hug if you’re a hedgehog?

Horace and Hattie are best friends who like to spend time together making daisy chains, splashing in puddles, and having tea parties. But they are OK doing things on their own, too: Hattie dances in the bluebells, while Horace searches the woods for spiders. But no matter what they do, together or apart, there’s one thing that they’ve found impossible: hugging. Each season, they try something new that will enable them to cushion their spines and snuggle up. Snow hugs are too cold, hollow-log hugs are too bumpy, strawberry hugs are too sticky, and autumn-leaf hugs are too scratchy. But a chance encounter with some laundry drying on a line may hold the answer to their problem—as well as to the universal mystery of lost socks. Tapper’s illustrations are a mix of what appears to be digital elements and photographed textures from scraps of baby clothes. While the latter provide pleasing textures, the hedgehogs are rendered digitally. Though cute, they are rather stiff and, well, spiky. Also, the typeface choice unfortunately makes the D in “hedgehug” look like a fancy lowercase A, especially to those still working on their reading skills.

It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-404-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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