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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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