Interactive fun, on a certain elemental level—but there are apps aplenty with more and better noises as well as animation to...

AND THE COW SAID

One uninvited animal guest after another drives a farmer out of his house in this noisy nighttime romp.

Poor Farmer Bill is just about to go to bed on a rainy night when there’s a knock at the door. “He opened it up, and a head peeked through. / It was a cow, and the cow said…MOO!” The cow is only the first in a line of livestock that troops in, one at a time, or lurks in wait outside to bleat, squeak, bark, or utter some other characteristic call at the (firm) press of a white spot on each animal’s body. The chip embedded in the rear cover having no fewer than 10 separate sounds programmed in, Farmer Bill finds no rest—not even up on the roof, where a rooster waits to “bellow” its morning greeting as the sun comes up on a climactic animal chorus. The noises are more familiar (and less gross) than in the similarly polyphonic Ten Monsters in the Bed (2015), which some at least may see as a good thing, but on the final page the contact spots are both unmarked and mostly not located where the animals are. Hearing the farm creatures sound off again will require pressing at random and hoping for a result. On the other hand, the chip’s battery is replaceable, so this is less ephemeral than others of its sort.

Interactive fun, on a certain elemental level—but there are apps aplenty with more and better noises as well as animation to go along with the audio. (Novelty picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0101-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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