Poignant ending notwithstanding, terrific fun for the Oshkosh set, with opportunities aplenty to practice motor skills, make...

KALLEY'S MACHINE PLUS CATS

A child’s scheme to keep her commuting dad home inspires a polyfunctional machine festooned with dials, switches, levers, buttons and other controls—not to mention cats.

Based on an original design by a real child—who also supplies one of the two voices for the narrative’s animated audio—the machine features interactions aplenty. There are stations in which gears move by turning a crank, “turners” raise and lower flames in a boiler, “bashers” can be made to pound faster or slower, colors and shapes can be selected, and other functions are controlled with taps and swipes. The cartoon pictures are all drawn in simple, wobbly lines on ruled notebook paper, and the text is similarly artless: “ ‘This must be a poker,’ I casually figure. / ‘No, they’re puffers!’ she scolds me. ‘They puff things up bigger.’ ” The movements are not only broad and easy to follow, they include such sophisticated elements as a color-mixing station (three colors, but still) and a remotely controlled robot arm. Furthermore, a wordless menu/index can be pulled down at will to toggle the audio, the appropriately clang-y background music…and also the inquisitive cats that narrowly escape being bashed, baked or otherwise processed in each scene. As it turns out, the machine’s purpose is to make food, and dad’s sad response that he still has to go to work leaves the undeterred young inventor planning further machines to relieve him of the necessity.

Poignant ending notwithstanding, terrific fun for the Oshkosh set, with opportunities aplenty to practice motor skills, make choices and observe cause and effect. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: RocketWagon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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