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



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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Interact Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Sincere and wholehearted.


The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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