An adaptation of an Indonesian folk tale with dreamlike storytelling and ripe animation that grows on you.

A childless couple wishes desperately for a child and is granted this wish by a horrifying ogre, who gives them a cucumber seed to plant. The catch? On her eighth birthday, the child must be turned back over to the monster. Unperturbed by this bum adoption plan, the couple plants the seed, and the beautiful, kind daughter it produces is named Timun Mas, or "Golden Cucumber." The ogre, of course, does return, but a wise man has given the family four items (including needles and shrimp paste) to help the girl fight him off. What follows is a chase sequence in which Timun Mas doesn't outwit or outfight her attempted captor, but instead drops the items behind her as she runs until the ogre is overcome, thus combining the tale’s obvious Rapunzel motifs with Baba Yaga ones. While the story doesn't exactly hold together and the text is flat ("Realizing that he had been fooled, the Ogre became angry"), the production is gorgeous. Clean, subtly colored and animated pages breathe more than enough life into the old story. It also doesn't hurt that navigation is nearly perfect, the narration is excellent, and the Ogre is rendered scarily enough to make for a tense pursuit. Not all of the story makes sense or is told in a convincing way, but the package so skillfully balances whimsy with danger that it stays with readers. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)


Pub Date: July 31, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: LooLooChoo

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Hee haw.

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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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