Rooney's story is one any kid, super-powered or not, can identify with, and the app does everything it can to make his story...

BRAVE ROONEY

An amusing, cleverly told story that plays off the glut of superheroes in pop culture benefits tremendously from an app design that's just as fun and engaging.

Rooney ("Not Captain Rooney or Commander Rooney, just plain old Rooney") is the new kid at a school full of caped, masked superhero kids. His home straddles the line between Majesticville and Normalville, and he's sent to school with no powers of flight, X-ray vision or super strength. But when a National Poetry Week event calls on the students to read an original poem, the super-powered kids balk... and Rooney comes to the rescue. Soon he's celebrated for his own unlikely superpower: the ability to give a speech without withering away from the assignment as if it were Kryponite. It's an imaginative take on fitting in at school; Rooney, an oft-injured kid who frequently visits the school nurse hired on solely for his benefit, makes a great main character. The hand-drawn scenes are packed with background details and colorful supporting characters (as in a great opening scene of Majesticville residents displaying their powers to sweep streets and deliver newspapers). Music, narration and animation that springs to life when the screen is pressed are all expertly handled. There's even a useful screen of settings that allow for more control over interactions; it would be nice if all storybook apps gave the option to disable accidental page turns or to control the volume of narration, sound effects and music separately.

Rooney's story is one any kid, super-powered or not, can identify with, and the app does everything it can to make his story into an enjoyably playful experience. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bacciz

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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