Some kids may enjoy the mishmash of loud photos and unremarkable storytelling, but parents will want to sidestep this...


An unfortunate mix of jarringly jumbled artwork, tepid text and general overstimulation, this visit to "Grandmama" feels at times like it will never end.

Attempts at whimsy in this celebration of the best place in the world—Grandmama's home—are forced to the point of causing eyestrain. Each page is a cluttered collection of photo-collaged images creating tableaux that are at times as nightmarish as they are imaginative. On one page, colorful birds fly around a rock sculpture in a Technicolor desert where Grandmama lives, while a kangaroo pushes a stroller and a child appears to be fleeing in terror. The most interesting visual effect is that the surface of the busy collages can be moved with the finger to create a tilting 3-D effect, making all the people, animals and objects on the screen appear to exist on multiple planes. But the "wow" factor of that admittedly neat feature subsides as it's paired with such lackluster couplets as, "We paint pictures and then later / Hang them on her fridgerator." The text is tiny (even when set at the largest font size available) and appears in a giant, ugly white strip along the bottom of every page. Though one little boy narrates the story throughout, the photos of people appear to be of different families and different Grandmamas, adding to the garish chaos. 

Some kids may enjoy the mishmash of loud photos and unremarkable storytelling, but parents will want to sidestep this unpleasant app. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: NeeNee Holdings

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.


A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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