Though the app is reasonably well done, it can’t help but perpetuate a seemingly endless musical loop that’s reminiscent of...

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

An interactive audio/visual sing-along.

This Christmas classic has been covered and parodied to pieces and is often one of the first holiday songs kids ever learn. Polk Street Press has taken its turn with the old chestnut, providing cute animated vignettes to go along with the lyrics. Withrow’s colorful and charming illustrations are animated just enough to keep little eyes engaged. Ladies dance, pipers pipe and lords leap as the song progresses. In sing-along mode, the app functions like a video; unless the pause button is pressed, it’ll take readers through all 12 stanzas. Creatively inclined readers can record their own voices singing either alongside the female lead or simply with a piano accompaniment. For iPad 2 users, there’s an added bonus: the option of recording both audio and video of the reader's musical contribution, both of which can be saved for later playback. There’s also a play-along mode that, when launched, pauses after each descending item; readers keep the song going by selecting from a “filmstrip” of numbered thumbnail images.

Though the app is reasonably well done, it can’t help but perpetuate a seemingly endless musical loop that’s reminiscent of “99 Bottles of Beer” or “It’s a Small World.” That said, it’s a suitable choice for those who love the song, if potentially crazy-making for everyone else. (iPad storybook app. 2-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Polk Street Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2011

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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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