ELFISHKI AND THE PERFORMANCE IN THE FOUNTAIN

A fluffy and inconsistent story about a little mermaid diva.

This app looks really good on paper (in terms of the developer’s description), but in reality, it may confuse kids more than help them. Elfishki are “magical little people” that live on Rainbow Island in the Sparkling Sea. This story revolves around Rinka, who dreams of being a circus performer. During the school break, her mother (a buxom, ditzy mermaid) drops Rinka off at a cat’s house, where the junior mermaid swims around in a tiny fountain and runs roughshod over her feline baby sitter. Eventually, Rinka is discovered by people stuck in traffic, and the cat deems her a “real circus performer,” though the story provides absolutely no context and no evidence that she’s anything of the sort. A confusing text-to-illustration mismatch places text on one page and the corresponding illustration on the following throughout, and six of the 13 screens are hollow, text-free attempts at “interaction.” Readers can summon discussion questions on most pages, but many are frivolous. The illustrations are vibrantly colored and gush with flowery scenery and syrupy characters (all white). The bonus seek-and-find game consists of locating sea creatures hidden in an ocean landscape, all of which exclaim variations of “wah-hoo!” when revealed. A profoundly disappointing tale. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)   

 

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: kidsiphoneapps.net

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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