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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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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