For some readers, the shortcomings won't matter. Lear's writing is still a delight, and whatever vehicle it arrives in...


A mismatch of adaptation style to source, this cartoon version of Lear's nonsense poem about lost love on a beach fails to live up to the wildly inventive wordplay of the text.

In the story, which was first published in 1877, the Yonghy-Bonghy Bò is a man living on the Coast of Coromandel in love with the Lady Jingly Jones. He asks her to be his wife in this exquisite bit of rhythmic writing: " 'I am tired of living singly, / On this coast so wild and shingly, / I'm a-weary of my life: / If you'll come and be my wife, / Quite serene would be my life!' / Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò, / Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò."  With its made-up words, silly imagery ("Where the early pumpkins blow") and delicious repetition, the text holds up remarkably well, and its melancholy ending is unexpected and poignant. Unfortunately, it's been paired with generic artwork, the kind where cutesy animated animals seem drawn only to scuttle around and make noises when touched. It turns out to be a disappointingly literal take on Lear's material. At least the design is consistent with its outdoor theme, framing the text and illustrations with vines and leaves. The app offers a brief biography of Lear, a set of questions and discussion topics for parents reading with their kids, and easy navigation. 

For some readers, the shortcomings won't matter. Lear's writing is still a delight, and whatever vehicle it arrives in doesn't diminish the strength of it much at all. (iPad storybook app. 2-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Corky Portwine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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