Even with some nicely executed animation and an impressive look, the story of the princess and the trapdoor is too slight a...

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PRINCESS PETAL AND THE TRAPDOOR

A visually snazzy app about a bored princess is hamstrung by a weak story.

Princess Petal lives in an enormous castle with busy parents and "...one million toys / And one thousand games, / Dolls and pets, / And a small jet plane." But she's bored: She wants to explore the dark and dangerous place below the forbidden trapdoor. Of course, the scowling Princess Petal ends up below the castle, but what she finds there isn't particularly remarkable, scary or worth the trip. In addition to some squirming worms, a large monster readers never see and handy lights and electrical outlets, her chief discovery is a creature that looks like a mangy dog, which she befriends. It's all the more unsatisfying because the rest of the elements for a great app are in place. The sharp-edged art style, detailed and colorful, includes convincing backgrounds and witty design. And key words in the voluminous text are highlighted with specialized type. The word "ARMOUR," for instance, is in a steely typeface, while "ROAR!" is intensely ragged. Narration is animated and appropriately lilting for the story. But the ho-hum ending and lackluster middle ultimately make Princess Petal a lot less compelling than she should be.

Even with some nicely executed animation and an impressive look, the story of the princess and the trapdoor is too slight a narrative for its production work. (iPad storybook app. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Attic Sound & Music

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

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 WONKY DONKEY

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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