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THE MUD MONSTER

A fanciful, almost dreamy little story featuring a turtle, a goose, a rabbit and—who would want it otherwise?—a monster.

This app is a simple piece of work, asking only that readers turn the page when they are ready, after following the bouncing words in the narrative or having digested the lovely artwork. The story, of which there are two similar versions to choose from, follows the young animals from their bath to a rowboat by the sea, where they catch a giant clam that—surprise!—harbors not a bivalve but the mud monster, a cheery soul who looks to be cut from kelp (very muddy kelp) and enjoys dancing in circles with his new friends. As a wind instrument peeps along in the background, they dance until tired and then tuck the mud monster back into his shell and send him home. The three chums then turn homeward as well, back to their bath. The story is gentle, which accounts for much of its charm, but it is not milquetoast. It has an engaging energy in its call for adventure and the realization that adventure can be sweet as well as daring. The illustrations’ loose lines and kaleidoscopic watercolors endow the characters, even the monster, with a seraphic air. A story that is as happy as a clam at high tide. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 3-6)  

 

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tizio BV

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

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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 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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