Maggie is an easy-to-love kid. She is, it turns out, the very model of a loving and loved sister.


A young girl learns that the things that drive us crazy about our loved ones are often the things that make them wonderful in this well-designed lesson on sibling appreciation.

The bookish, tidy narrator tells readers about Maggie, her messy, adventurous, center-of-attention little sister, whom she insists is "not like other sisters!" Maggie, a firecracker with freckles, red hair and a talent for making silly faces, is also generous, attentive when her sister's sad, and brave on scary, dark nights. By bedtime, older sis has come to appreciate Maggie: "And every night we climb in bed. / While stars are dancing overhead. / Then in my ear, she whispers this: / 'I love you lots and lots, big sis!' " The illustrations throughout are crisp, colorful and filled with eye-catching background detail. Animations, especially of canine companion Pugsley, are simple and just-enough. Navigation is almost completely absent. Page swipes are fluid; large white circles appear briefly to clue younger readers as to where they might find spots to touch to make the characters act; and big, helpful arrows prompt when it's time to move on. Interactions beyond the app include a link to a website where readers can share their own sister stories and a store filled with merchandise related to the app.

Maggie is an easy-to-love kid. She is, it turns out, the very model of a loving and loved sister. (iPad storybook app. 2-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Nabee Productions

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Hee haw.

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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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