Pluto deserves better. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

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PWIGGLES ON PLUTO

A nonexistent story and a mostly uninspiring template-built interface ground this app from the get-go.

The pwiggles, hairy creatures that look a little like fingerprints with long horns (or maybe ears?) on their heads, live on Pluto. Readers won’t learn anything of substance about them by reading this story, only that they prefer to do things in groups of two, five and eight. Gluggles, the scoundrels in the story, are Jabba the Hutt–like creatures that growl and grouse and prey on pwiggles. Mild potty humor permeates the story, as there’s some burping, regurgitating and lots of fart sounds. There is one redeeming element here: In a sea of profoundly wearisome apps that have been built using drag-and-drop tools, this one actually offers slight (emphasis on the word “slight”) improvements. For example, on a page where the pwiggles form a dance troupe, swiping one of them triggers a handful of acrobatic flip sequences. And tapping them often causes a lateral, paper-thin rotation. However, the monochromatic, one-dimensional illustrations don’t add even half an ounce of aesthetic value. There’s an index of pages that makes navigation somewhat simple, though the homogenous one-word page descriptions don’t give much of a clue where you’ll land. Unusual sound effects are plenteous, which might help to hold kids’ interest, but there’s no narration.

Pluto deserves better. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Heji Kim

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

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

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THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

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

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