The app’s shining features never overwhelm the simplicity of Lars’ story or the nicely executed idea at its heart.

LARS AND FRIENDS

A red horse spends a day with groups of other animals in this simple story with a clever learning hook.

Lars wants to run around long after his herd has grown tired. So he swims with a school of fish, jumps with a mob of kangaroos, and takes shelter from the rain with a tower of giraffes. As he plays, readers learn the names for groups of animals, from a memory of elephants to a parliament of owls. Animations are pleasingly granular. Tapping one obvious item, say the sun, might trigger a flurry of flowers in the air. But tapping on individual horses or kangaroos among a group could make each of them jump or simply blink an eye. The app’s restraint is admirable. It doesn’t try to extend the story to contain every possible collective name, and it keeps the focus on the words and visuals, with just a simple acoustic guitar loop playing throughout. That goes well with attractive watercolor and gouache paint illustrations of a variety of habitats. There is optional narration on every page, allowing readers to enjoy each page at their own pace. Best of the extra features is a “Learn” menu that offers many more animal group names, such as an ostentation of peacocks.

The app’s shining features never overwhelm the simplicity of Lars’ story or the nicely executed idea at its heart. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 15, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Carla Susanto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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