A few clogs in the digital plumbing away from a wrap.



Sound effects and animated wriggles squeeze out laffs from this unabashed exercise in toilet humor, but the software coding and design is a major update short of release-ready.

Published in print on this side of the pond in 2007 as Who’s in the Bathroom? but reverting to its British title for the app version, the episode uses the same art and rhymed text to roll out an extended series of speculations about who is holding up the line outside an outdoor restroom: “Is it a tiger who needed a tiddle? / A wandering wombat who wanted a widdle? / A waddling penguin too frozen to piddle?” Each watercolor scene features one or more creatures who groan, strain, emit a noxious-looking cloud (in the case of a “rhino who had a hot curry”) or gesture suggestively, and a toilet in (thankfully) side view that flushes with a tap. Readers can opt for silent mode, self-record or, albeit with a very slow auto-advance, a narrator who delivers the lines with indecent relish. But even in silent mode the text appears piecemeal on many screens, and only temporarily at that, with repeated manual swipes required to bring the next line into view. Pulling a chain on the title page produces not only loud flushing, but two side activities: a select set of coloring pages and a more promising multiple-choice fill-in-the-rhyming-word iteration of the story that, unfortunately, crashes the app after the first few screens.

A few clogs in the digital plumbing away from a wrap. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Robot Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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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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