While it could have been stronger with a few more surprises and features, the app's simplicity and novelty are nearly enough...

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THIS IS MY STORY ... AND I'M STICKING TO IT

A kind of visual Mad Libs app, this one doesn't have a narrative or even consistent characters. But its very simple design and easy-to-grasp (both literally and figuratively) stickers make it fun nevertheless.

A title screen that has a hand-drawn look offers the options of "Make Up Your Own Story," "Match a Sticker Story," "Sticker Page Fun" and "Read a Saved Story" as big, box icons. The first option offers a scrolling rail at the bottom of the screen with 30 items ranging from "The Cupcake" to "The Kite" to "The Pig." Selecting an object's icon and sliding it into a blank, transparent box places it in a fill-in-the-blank story page (for instance, "The Spider said hello to The Flower"). This setup continues for eight pages, and then the story can be played back with narration or saved to be read again later. The "Match" game offers outlines of the objects, leaving the reader to scroll through the animals, clothes and other items to fill in the right shape. And "Sticker Page Fun" is a set of backgrounds on which to place stickers in a more free-form way. The rigid structure of the "Make Up" section doesn't exactly feel like it'll make anyone's imagination gallop at full pace, but the app is solidly built, supremely easy to navigate and filled with charmingly low-fi (but still effective) art. It's a shame there aren't more options available—to customize the story skeleton, record a reader's voice or even color the sticker pages, for instance.

While it could have been stronger with a few more surprises and features, the app's simplicity and novelty are nearly enough to make up for that. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Callaway Digital Arts

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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