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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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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As insubstantial as hot air.


A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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