MAID MARIAN MUFFINS

Maid Marian is a Brooklyn resident who, with her dog Marvin, can't seem to find a decent blueberry muffin in the entire borough. Their fruitless quest gives Maid Marian the idea of baking her own, leading to a muffins-by-bike enterprise that exists in the real world. The idea of a children's story app that is in part one big advertisement for "Maid Marian" Jessica Vander Salm's business may strike some as suspect (the story and app were created by Vander Salm and her brother Jamie). It's not lacking for cute, funky illustrations, though, and it has a fresh, playful tone throughout. The narration is enthusiastic (almost excessively so), and Marvin's expressions (spitting out a subpar muffin, plaintively donning a chef's hat) are funny. The trial-and-error process of creating the perfect blueberry muffin is also detailed amusingly—"They baked muffins that slouched… and muffins that shrunk… and muffins that sweated and smoldered and stunk"—in quite good less-is-more prose. The app eschews any interactive elements except page swipes, but it's got personality to make up for that. The illustrated New York locales give the app a strong sense of place, and an About the Authors page might make readers wonder why more children's-book apps fail to feature author/illustrator information. Even if it's a business ploy, it's an entertaining, seemingly well-intentioned one. Who can't identify with love for a delicious, fresh-baked muffin? (iPad storybook app. 3-10)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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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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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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