There's a sunny, boisterous sense of fun about the whole thing that's positively endearing; both robot and app have got a...



An impressively scruffy app with scribbly artwork and nary a straight line to speak of, this mix of low-fi presentation and top-shelf interactivity is a unique pleasure.

Hyperactive, blue-haired Pete and his dog Spot send away for all the parts necessary to build a custom robot. But when the gleaming, red, string-limbed ’bot arrives, the thing goes crazy in an amusing series of adventures. (The robot delivers mail to the wrong addresses, spills the goods in a candy store, and serves stinky mud pies at a diner, among other things.) It turns out the robot is missing a "Heartdrive," which happens to be the name of the app developer, Heartdrive Media. Once the addition is installed, the robot becomes "Hero" after rescuing a cat in a tree. Then Pete, Spot, Hero and some of their friends start a band. The busy stream-of-consciousness plotting at work in the app perfectly fits the intentionally rough artwork. The characters often look like they've been chewed up in a paper shredder, but they're set against sometimes-gorgeous spinning backgrounds. Every page has at least one or two touch-screen toys to play with, like telescoping arms on Pete or a full set of instruments to play and mix up when the musical group is formed. There's also optional narration from three different voice actors and a cast of characters like a monkey mailman and a dinosaur chef, who'll likely reappear in future adventures. If there's one strike against the app, it's the exhausting overuse of exclamation marks in the text, which makes every! Line! Appear! To! Scream!

There's a sunny, boisterous sense of fun about the whole thing that's positively endearing; both robot and app have got a lot of heart. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 23, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Heartdrive

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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What a wag.

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From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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