Lucky for the developers that Bartleby's books are worth the wait. This app series continues to delight; it feels innovative...

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THE BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

From the Bartleby's Book of Buttons series , Vol. 2

A continuation of the charmingly playful series about button-collecting, bowler-hat–wearing Bartleby, this volume is no less winning than the first even as it adds more locales and characters.

When last we left Bartleby, his brief trip to Mystery Island yielded treasure. This time out, an encounter with Bartleby's friend Sally (who's into switches the way he's into buttons) leads to an adventure on and under the sea, which reveals a long-lost family member and a cliffhanger ending that points to a third volume that will likely take place in space. As in the first book, the detailed animation (watch as Bartleby's bushy mustache flaps in the wind as he rides his moped), clever-but-not-too-difficult puzzles and retro-tech vibe are a great combination. Bartleby doesn't speak much, but he doesn't have to; he expresses himself in the way he solves puzzles, pursues clues and treasures his buttons. Hidden maps, deep-sea buttons, secret underwater caves and sleepy whales figure into a story that's packed with great imagery and texture. Volume two feels twice as long as the first book did, and it's satisfying, but the cliffhanger may be a problem for some faithful readers given how long it takes for a new app to be released; it's been nearly a year since we saw the previous adventure.

Lucky for the developers that Bartleby's books are worth the wait. This app series continues to delight; it feels innovative and well-told at the same time, a tricky balance. (iPad storybook/puzzle app. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Octopus Kite

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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