ROCK 'N ELEPHANT

This paradoxically didactic, discordant picture book attempts to introduce children to Zen teachings.

When Elephant doesn’t show up for their daily playtime, Rock goes on an adventure to find his missing friend.  Along the way, he meets up with such characters as Speck (a "pile" of sand) and Spark (a “fiery flintstone”) who try to comfort him with non-Western spiritual teachings like ”Everything around you is changing every moment” and “Look around you, everything is right here.” Unfortunately, the didacticism gets in the way of the story and the text never finds its rhythm, abruptly switching from prose to a variety of rhyming patterns that simply don’t work: “Where could he be? / I miss him to pieces. I’m so lonely.” Rock is voiced by an adult adopting an annoyingly high voice and lisp, apparently in an attempt to sound like a small child. Each page features different sound effects or music, so every time a page advances, the soundtrack stops and starts, disrupting the continuity of the story. The illustrations are serviceable, the navigation works fine and tips are available at the tap of a button Skip this “Rock” and check out the far superior Zen Shorts and companion books by Jon J Muth. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

 

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: TabTale

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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