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


Page Count: -

Publisher: TabTale

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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