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Playful indeed. Preschoolers will line up for a turn.

Another digital (in the original sense of the term) adventure from the reigning grand master of no-tech gaming.

Following genial directions in a “hand-lettered” typeface called Hervé Tullet Whimsy, readers can make a slightly-larger-than-thumb-sized yellow circle shift position by pressing different spots (and then turning the page). This is prelude to a fingertip odyssey—traveled by “pushing” the dot along a continuous inked line that bounces, loops, climbs stairs, snakes through a thicket of streaks and dots for a bit of hide-and-seek, creeps into a dark passage and past obstacles, halts temporarily at a red light, then breaks into a series of increasingly exuberant spirals. The dot finally follows the line off the edge of the last page, leaving behind a tempting “Hey! Do you want to come back sometime and play some more?” The general idea has been carried through more elaborate, concrete iterations in a direct line that leads from Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon to Laura Ljundqvist’s Follow the Line (2006) and sequels. Still, the spot offers an engaging ongoing commentary, which ranges from “Oooooh WOW ooooooo!” to “EEEEK! We better leave on tiptoe…” and (for a spread of chaotic black scribbles) “I really don’t like this page. You see why now, don’t you?” It encourages a broad range of emotional reactions and responses from fellow travelers to go along with the physical interactivity.

Playful indeed. Preschoolers will line up for a turn. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5477-0

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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