By the end, readers may be as exhausted as Little Critter’s beleaguered dad, who does all the driving, natch, but they will...




Little Critter, Little Sister and their parents take a meandering trip to Lake Wakatookee in this busy app.

Each page opens with the narrator reading a few lines of text, and then interactions are unlocked. Touching color-coded hotspots triggers animations, loads Little Critter’s backpack, rereads text and brings up alphabet flashcards (“R. Raccoon. Raccoon begins with R”). Once all of the hotspots have been explored, readers can advance to the next screen and are occasionally prompted to choose the route. It’s a predictably circuitous and eventful trip, including an overheated engine, a stop at an ice cream stand and an inexplicable detour to the beach. Animations that open and close each page and tap-activated dialogue (“How do you spell pineapple?” queries Mom pedantically. “It’s a compound word: pine apple.” “Moo-oom!” protest the kids) supplement the bare-bones plot. Indeed, so much is going on, what with interactions and animations, it’s a good thing there’s so little to the actual story. Six additional games punctuate the journey; completing them all successfully unlocks a “fun surprise.” The app is not for readers who wish to blaze through, instead rewarding lingerers amply. (There is a static “Just Read” mode for those who wish to bypass the extra doodads.)

By the end, readers may be as exhausted as Little Critter’s beleaguered dad, who does all the driving, natch, but they will feel like they’ve done something . (iPad storybook app. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.


This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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