WITCHY & WILLIAM

A young witch helps a giant out in a simple fairy-tale app.

Witchy is a little girl with a magic wand and a pointy hat who, one night in bed, is approached by a giant named William. “I am looking for something to eat,” he tells her before munching on Witchy’s stuffed rabbit. Witchy learns that the giant comes from an arid place, so he can’t grow fruits or vegetables. With a little magic, Witchy is able to fix the situation. The app features simple ink-and-watercolor illustrations, and the app design takes a minimalist approach, using hand-drawn icons and page-turn animations with few frills. Each page has a few interactions, such as a sound effect or objects that can be moved. Most helpfully, a question mark on each page reveals the hidden ways to trigger these. Unfortunately, the text has dodgy punctuation throughout, likely the result of its translation from Dutch. A bigger problem for many may be the story itself. Witchy willingly goes along with the giant, a stranger who suddenly shows up in her room, without permission. And it’s not a giant her own age; as drawn in the story, he’s a balding, middle-aged giant with white hair. So much for stranger danger.

Other than that creepy giant elephant in the room, Witchy’s story isn’t exactly bewitching, save for the tidy design. (Requires iPad 2 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Somoiso

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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