Pure commercialized product, offering barely a hint of any literary, dramatic, musical or emotional experience and stocked...



The handful of coloring pages and puzzles supplementing the stills that serve for illustrations and minor interactive features serve as poor substitutes for the original film's swinging (if period, now) songs and lively voice-over performances.

Read optionally in cultured British accents by a single narrator over a background of generic light jazz, the tale does retrace the movie's overall course—though so sketchily that none of the cats, from Duchess and her three kittens to their rescuer O'Malley and his raffish buddies, have a chance to establish much individuality. Furthermore, it's all paced...so...deliberately that many readers will inadvertently swipe ahead and so miss some delayed pans and passages of text. Along with an abbreviated piano keyboard featuring a preprogrammed tune, three (savable) coloring pages and five multileveled jigsaw puzzles provide additional story-derailing distractions. For children with a yen to personalize, the app includes a self-record option and a "bookplate" with spaces for a name and a photo. 

Pure commercialized product, offering barely a hint of any literary, dramatic, musical or emotional experience and stocked with a scanty assortment of off-the-shelf interactive elements. (iPad movie storybook app. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.


This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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