An awkward framing device, a didactic tone and scant use of animation or interactive elements sink this potentially engaging...



An ancient tale from India is framed in a modern picture-book story.

Two youngsters and their grandparents take a break at the playground to hear grandfather’s story of "The Dove and the Hunters" from the Panchatantra collection of Indian fables. In the tale-within-a-tale, an evil hunter lures a dole of doves into a net. Under the wise tutelage of their king, they fly off together with the net, and some kindly mice friends free them by chewing the net apart. The framing device is apparently common in the Panchatantra tradition, but here the playground story detracts from an interesting fable that would have stood up well on its own. The grandfather holds a didactic question-and-answer session following the tale that further leaches enjoyment from the story. The illustrations feel stereotypical; while the kids could be any ethnicity, the grandmother has a bindi on her forehead, and the evil hunter appears to be an exaggerated cartoon version of a Hindu demon. The sing-song, amateurish narration is further marred by careless mismatches with the text. Aside from a few well-designed puzzles, there is very little animation and almost no interaction.

An awkward framing device, a didactic tone and scant use of animation or interactive elements sink this potentially engaging Panchatantra tale. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Green Broccoli

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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