Readers will want to stay away from these gnomes—or whatever they are: They're full of tricks and broken promises.

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THE NUTONS' KITCHEN OR HOW TO NURTURE A GNOME

A perplexing take on a Belgian legend takes too long to introduce itself then ends abruptly, as if by a magical trick of the forest.

Nutons, the app explains, are the cousins of gnomes (though the title would beg to differ), and though each is very old, "...he's about the size of a 3 year old kid, from the top of his hat to the top of his toes." Through a series of pages featuring geometric, Bauhaus-like artwork—all triangles, circles and askew squares—the nutons are shown to be night-dwelling creatures who like to live in the comfort of the woods. But the text and narration wander badly, likely the result of a bad translation, creating a confusing narrative with endless sentences that go nowhere. One example: "Mere babysteps away, alongside the rapids of the Lesse river, sits a great stone covered with small circular recesses: les Scûles, the bowls, which, according to tradition, are the nutons' dinner plates." The page meant to give parents discussion points to use with their kids isn't much better. The story shifts from a five-page introduction to a five-page story of a village woman who loses a bunch of oats given to her by a nuton that she thought might turn into gold. The village woman learns not to trust nutons, and readers learn not to trust badly translated offerings in the App Store.

Readers will want to stay away from these gnomes—or whatever they are: They're full of tricks and broken promises. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Cot Cot Cot Apps

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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