The concept is strong, but the delivery has more than a few glitches. Slow response coupled with incongruous and primitive...

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

An interactive history lesson about ancient musical instruments.

This cookie-cutter offering is broken into four sections. The brief introduction—painfully slow when the app’s narrator reads it—offers a few foundational facts about music in the ancient world. Next comes “Learn & Listen,” a collection of 11 instruments (two of them human voices) accompanied by text that gives a brief description and a few facts about the instrument. Tapping the active instrument triggers a short demonstration, though the animated movements aren’t synced with the audio. Disappointingly, the harp demo consists of two notes played repeatedly at the same rhythmic interval; little ears and fingers will be begging for a glissando. Furthermore, the little man who demonstrates one of the lyres is plucking it with his finger, but the sound is distinctly bowlike. Once all the instruments have been demonstrated, readers can move to “The Orchestra,” where one or all instruments can be tapped to create unique combinations of sound (playing them all at once creates quite the cacophony). Finally, there’s the “Music Room,” where readers are instructed to “pick an instrument” they can haltingly play while reading facts about related objects displayed on a pedestal.

The concept is strong, but the delivery has more than a few glitches. Slow response coupled with incongruous and primitive features leave this app somewhere in the Middle Ages. (iPad informational app. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Interact Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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