OLLIE AND TAAVI CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS

Skip this app and find other ways to help children learn about these holidays.

The titular Ollie and Taavi are adorable dogs who sport yarmulkes, but their rhyming celebrations of Jewish holidays fall flat in this misconceived app.

The poems are addressed to young Jews, but those without background knowledge will find themselves at sea. For instance, though a Seder plate spins around if touched, the special Passover meal is not described. The uninspiring poems move from rhyme to free verse. The Tu B’Shvat (“New Year of Trees”) selection ends in a strange image: “I can / hold / the snow / in my branches / like a baby’s cradle in winter.” Although in some parts of the world the holiday occurs during the snowy season, in others, there is no snow, especially in Israel. The words are highlighted in red when the (monotone) narration is turned on. A customizable feature allows self-recorded narration, but word highlighting does not operate when this feature is used. The volume of the lively Klezmer music, other sounds and narration can be individually controlled. Purim noisemakers called groggers whirl round, and Hanukkah latkes fry and flip over, but none is very exciting. Awkward navigation forces users to return to the homepage if they want to skip around among holidays. Ollie and Taavi often disappear completely, but no children are shown in the illustrations to spark visual interest.

Skip this app and find other ways to help children learn about these holidays. (iPad informational app. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 30, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Customizabooks

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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