A bland take on a premise that Mercer Mayer has practically worn out single-handedly.

CHLOE'S LITTLE SECRET

Unexceptional writing and low-wattage interactive effects send this tale of a girl and her closet monster to a back shelf.

Chloe is drawn with huge, almond eyes and placed against pastel backgrounds. She explains to readers how she cuddles, cleans up after and cares for her spidery, rubber-limbed companion (anonymous, until he’s abruptly introduced near the end as “Floyd”) before anticlimactically revealing the “little secret” that he is her friend—a fact which she had previously mentioned anyway on the second screen. Toothy Floyd is appealing, with his little horns and big, googly eyes, and he makes a variety of amusing noises when he is tapped, from Donald Duck–like mutterings to gentle boinks. Unfortunately, he is not enough to sustain even this short app. The story, which is intermittently rhymed, is read by a slightly breathless narrator in both manual and autoplay modes. Selecting the latter freezes the skimpy assortment of animations and tap-activated sound effects. The app opens with an advertisement (readers may skip past it), closes on a screen that does not allow backward swiping, and features neither a thumbnail index nor a way to set a bookmark.

A bland take on a premise that Mercer Mayer has practically worn out single-handedly. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Marina Tito

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF JOY

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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