A few bells and whistles fail to make this app soar.

READ REVIEW

BALLY, THE BALLOON DOG

Bally meets up with three "real" dogs and through a series of events realizes that he’s different. Will he ever fit in?

Bally the “bright blue poodle” (clearly lavender on the iPad screen) is tethered to a string and held by the balloon seller in the park. As he floats high in the sky, a gust of wind gives him a lift and he manages to break free. Thus begins his attempt to keep up with three real canines. Bally tries to dive into a fountain but can only float on the surface. He tries to lift his leg on a tree but nothing comes out (though apparently he can pass gas). He tries to eat a hotdog and ends up catapulting it on top of a hedge none of them can reach. It’s only when he retrieves the wayward hotdog that he is fully accepted as “one of them.” There are elements to this app that kids will enjoy: feeding hotdogs to pups; dropping dogs into a fountain; recording personal narration. But by and large, it’s about as limp as a balloon that survived last week’s birthday party. The story is weak and inconsistent, the writing is undistinguished and the implicit “moral” leaves the impression that usefulness equals value.

A few bells and whistles fail to make this app soar. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 27, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Apps of All Nations

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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