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KALLEY'S MACHINE PLUS CATS by Jon Alexander Kirkus Star


by Jon Alexander ; Kalley Alexander ; illustrated by Carrie Alexander ; Jon Alexander ; Corbett Alexander ; developed by RocketWagon

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2014
Publisher: RocketWagon

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)