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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Hee haw.

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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