This app won’t win any awards for technological innovation, but it offers enough warmth and educational value to justify the...



A cub searches for a much-needed bear hug.

Adapted from Melling’s 2010 book of the same name, this story is about a young brown bear who wakes up in need of some affection. Douglas wraps his arms around a boulder and tries to cuddle with a tree, but neither delivers what he’s looking for. After disturbing a herd of sheep and a cranky owl (all of whom refuse to reciprocate his hugs), he finds a rabbit that eventually leads him to the warm embrace he craves. Illustrations are taken directly from the book, with certain details given limited, superficial movement. The read-to-me version is played like a video, which—aside from being able to pause and play—leaves it completely sans interactive elements. Alan Davies’ narration is delightfully lively and is read at a reasonable pace as each word is highlighted. The read-it-myself option allows for self-paced page advancement as well as limited interaction; tapping items yields audio and visual one-word descriptions, though some diction and spellings are decidedly British. In addition to the story, there are two extras: a “hug gallery,” in which various images can be e-mailed, and a game of “Noughts and Crosses” (more frequently known in America as Tic-Tac-Toe).

This app won’t win any awards for technological innovation, but it offers enough warmth and educational value to justify the price. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hachette UK

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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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

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