A pleasantly understated alternative to the many frenetic apps on the market



As might be expected for a god, Hermes’ beginnings are far from ordinary.

Born at dawn, he eats nonstop and grows prodigiously—as the uncredited text reads, “The day of his birth was exceptionally trying for his poor mother.” Bored by nightfall, he slips out of the cave and straightaway happens upon a herd of “lovely cows,” which he steals before butchering and eating two of them. “Woe unto Hermes,” though, as those lovely cows just happen to be Apollo’s. As apology, Hermes presents Apollo with the first lyre—partly made from the horns of one of Apollo’s dead cows. Illustrations are largely watercolor with some collaged-in elements, most notably a cherubic Victorian face that cleverly belies Hermes’ naughtiness. The app is minimally interactive, opting for subtle animation and sound effects over finger taps in a way that prioritizes the story. The text is exceptionally well-synced to both pleasingly accented narration and page turns, but there is no advanced navigation or options. At the end of the story, children are rewarded with the opportunity to drive Hermes around in a bumper car, bashing the developer’s other characters (Bluebeard, Baba Yaga and Punch) and revealing satisfyingly puerile jokes with each crash. Its greatest liability is the absence of any kind of source note to contextualize the myth for children not already familiar with it. [Editor's note: background information added in version 1.1, May 12, 2013.]

A pleasantly understated alternative to the many frenetic apps on the market . (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: BumpBump Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

Did you like this book?

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet