Snow White is given short shrift in this amateurish adaptation. Everything down to the tiny, barely there poisoned apple is...

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SNOW WHITE

A generic, uninspired take on "Snow White" brings rudimentary interactivity to the story without adding anything magical or even above average to make readers forget better versions.

There are no narrative surprises, as the plot follows the familiar path, and there's nothing in its delivery to distinguish it. The story gallops at a pace that doesn't give any characters, even Snow White herself, any time to come across as more than names and drawings. The dwarves, for instance, are given a single page of introduction in which they also agree to let Snow White be their housekeeper. When the text isn't bland, it's clunky: "Fearing for her life, she ran through the afternoon, growing weary, hungry and losing hope that she would find shelter." If there's a saving grace here, it's that a surprising number of objects, characters and backgrounds respond to touch with small snatches of animation or sound effects. But they're part of a design that clumsily mixes realistic-looking backgrounds with painted foregrounds and crudely cartoonish animals and characters. The app has no navigation beyond page arrows and no extras or options beyond narration or narration-free. It doesn't even include a page index or menu to jump to a specific page in the app.

Snow White is given short shrift in this amateurish adaptation. Everything down to the tiny, barely there poisoned apple is unconvincing and an opportunity missed. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Fairytale Studios

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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