The app itself is an odd bird that could use some updating, especially for the English version. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)



An avian effort featuring concurrent English and Spanish versions of a story about a man and his feathered friends fails to take flight, despite some nice design touches.

Mr. Martin, an old man who has befriended groups of birds at the park, is puzzled when a crow tries to tell him something. Mr. Martin can speak to sparrows, blue jays and robins, "[b]ut what of other birds? Like eagles, or swans? Cockatoos, or crows? Not a word of their squeaks could he interpret!" As it turns out, the crow warned of rain, a turn of events so inspiring, Mr. Martin resolves to go home and write about it for his grandkids. While its hand-drawn illustrations and modest bits of animation work well (mostly birds flying across the screen or engaging in small bits of word-balloon dialogue), the story is slight, and the translation is rough. In Spanish, Mr. Martin's story is a lovely, rhythmic slice of life, but the English text, which also appears on each page, is riddled with unnecessary punctuation, at least one major misspelling ("though" instead of "thought"). There are no real options beyond page turns, and if there's a way to get back to the main menu once the story begins, it's very effectively hidden. It's a shame, because the pages themselves are beautifully designed. The app ends with a page that lists the birds’ English and Spanish names, though none are mentioned that way in the story proper.

The app itself is an odd bird that could use some updating, especially for the English version. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Maroe Susti

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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