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

OLLIE AND TAAVI CELEBRATE THE 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. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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