Though some of it may sail over the audience’s heads, this shot at early art appreciation is certainly worth the chance.

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AN ART ALPHABET

Choice reproductions of artwork from the National Gallery of Art are matched with letters and words for some amusing, very simple interplay with readers.

The format here is straightforward. The letters of the alphabet are arrayed on the screen; press any letter, and up comes a page comprising the letter, a few words starting with that letter and a piece of art whose title begins with that letter. Touch M for Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps’ Monkey Paging Through a Book, along with an upper- and lowercase M and the words “magic,” “media” and “monkey.” A brief narrative identifies the letter and introduces the artist. Touch the painting, and the monkey moves around a little; other artwork breaks out in furling ribbons of color or a swarm of musical notes. Each page has a movable creature—a cutout cat, duck or fish—readers can squire about (and sometimes leave a stream of glitter). There is something of a disconnect between the artwork, which can be pretty sophisticated stuff, and the age of the audience, which is fairly young considering the simplicity of the animation. Fodder, then, for the 4-year-old future museum curator. But it would be wrong to underestimate anyone’s curiosity in that lion’s-head door pull from 16th-century Germany.

Though some of it may sail over the audience’s heads, this shot at early art appreciation is certainly worth the chance. (iPad alphabet app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kristin Harris

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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