Emma's world is neat, if a little grim, in concept, but without narrative development, it's as paper-thin as Emma's pop-up...



An eye-pleasing, imaginative ride through a dark pop-up–book world that's unfortunately too choppy and short to truly take flight.

In a paper city where everything is attached to the storybook by paper tabs, a girl named Emma manages to free herself and go on an adventure by tearing the tab on a hot air balloon. Text and narration along the way tells readers what they already see in the illustrations, that "[t]he fields were vast" and that "[t]he forest was dangerous." Even riskier are a paper tornado and a hole in the sky, the literal "The End" that would complete Emma's tale. She backtracks, terrified, and is able to get back on paper ground and make a home for herself among the pop-up buildings. For such a beautifully animated app, it's a shame that the story itself is so brief, lacking detailed twists and turns. The app also insists that readers interact with it only on its terms. Readers are instructed to "Tear!" "Jump!" "Tap!" in specific, purple-colored spots, and the story stops until the commands are obeyed. It stops the flow of the story cold and makes it feel more like operating a remote control than a fully formed iPad storybook. 

Emma's world is neat, if a little grim, in concept, but without narrative development, it's as paper-thin as Emma's pop-up surroundings. (iPad storybook app. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 23, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Grids Interactive

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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