Concepts like sportsmanship, perseverance, humility and knowing and accepting one’s own strengths and limitations are a gold...


In this reversal of the age-old tortoise-vs.-hare tale, a young hare competes against some formidable opponents.

A hare walks into a bar…actually, he vaults over one being held by meerkats stacked one atop the other. Such are the events of the animal decathlon. The hare (who is ridiculed by a chortling hyena for entering) participates in all 10 events. He’s up against a gorilla in the shot put, a kangaroo in the long jump, and a cheetah in a sprint race—all of whom handily beat him. At the end of the story, he’s a good sport, pronouncing that though he didn’t take first place in any of the events, he had a good time. Only then does he learn that he’s the top athlete of the competition, thus winning the decathlon. Along the way readers can tap the animals to set them in motion or prompt sound effects, though quite often there are no interactive elements to match descriptive text. Tapping the (adequately rhyming) text is the only way to prompt narration, and a handy frog icon allows easy navigation between pages. The technological and literary value of this app is only fair, but the story behind the narrative makes it medal worthy (if only a bronze).

Concepts like sportsmanship, perseverance, humility and knowing and accepting one’s own strengths and limitations are a gold mine of potential teaching moments. They also warm the heart. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Interact Books

Review Posted Online: May 9, 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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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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