Speech-recognition software is just not there yet in this pretty-but-glitchy app

READ REVIEW

WINKEN, BLINKEN AND NOD

What might have been a daring choice—instead of traditional narration, word highlighting is triggered by a reader's voice—sinks this otherwise-attractive adaptation of the classic poem.

Winken (the original poem's "Wynken" and "Blynken" have been regularized) is imagined as a rhinoceros, Blinken is a frog and Nod is a cute baby adorned with a folded-newspaper hat in Rosenthal's appealing cut-paper illustrations. Well-chosen sound effects and spare animations would make this perfect for a bedtime story, but the frustration of literally trying to make your voice heard renders it useless in that or any other function. The absence of any navigation options at all makes the problem even worse; readers may find they can’t get anywhere without screaming at the app or turning it off and starting over. The help page instructs viewers to read the words out loud, suggesting that talking louder and/or moving the iPad closer if there are problems, but this results in inconsistent success. While touching the words on the screen isn’t offered as an option, it does appear to work on some of the pages. Touching the words and speaking simultaneously on the very first page, however, may cause the remainder of the text to disappear altogether. Offering the option of turning off the speech-recognition function and providing a way to advance the story would save this app.

Speech-recognition software is just not there yet in this pretty-but-glitchy app . (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Larva Labs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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