Entertaining illustrations reinforce outmoded stereotypes of gender roles.



A new abecedary app joins the menagerie.

As with many alphabet apps, each page shows one animal whose name begins with the featured letter. The characters move slightly on their own, prompting readers to tap them and figure out simple animations. Young readers will enjoy the colorful cartoon illustrations of animals in silly costumes, whether it’s a duck in an old-fashioned aviator’s outfit or a koala in chef whites serving a plate of eucalyptus leaves. There is no consistent connection among the featured letter, the costume and the activity (though parents will probably get a kick out of the aristocratic alligator). The British narration is pleasant, although the timing needs improvement. When readers turn a page, they hear the letter name and then the animal name hard on its heels, making it hard to distinguish one from the other. Well-designed parental controls make it easy to turn off music, sound effects and narration. It is disappointing that only six characters are clearly girls, and most of these are dressed in traditional outfits such as a unicorn in a Renaissance princess costume or a mother quail in an elegant shawl. Only one girl is clearly active: a little mouse happily roller-skating. Where are today’s girls in this app?

Entertaining illustrations reinforce outmoded stereotypes of gender roles. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad alphabet app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: Yabra

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


From the The Goodnight Train series

As The Goodnight Train traverses la-la land, the rhythmic chugging and the cadenced clickety-clacking will eventually lull even the most stalwart child to sleep. So, “Find your sleepers! Grab your teddy.” The train sets forth over hill and dale, puffing and huffing, embraced by somnolent shades of blue and purple. Upward through the tunnel, the train rockets around the curve and toward its destination, choo-chooing all the way as it passes over a flat plain and through a field of sheep. Gradually, the train begins to slow. At last the little locomotive pulls into the depot and its occupants sigh and close their sleepy eyes. The illustrations depict welcoming creatures of all sorts, children and skunks alike. There is bountiful fun to be had in the journey’s creamy hues, painting fantastic hypnagogic images such as a turtle shoveling cinnamon rolls and a mermaid applying night cream. The cheerful and rhyming text paired with the frothy art creates an enchanting trip to dreamland. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-205436-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet