An assortment of tap-activated giggling elves, color changes and sound effects adorning the cartoon illustrations don’t...


A muddle indeed, this unstable and badly designed holiday minitale will spread more frustration than cheer.

In the nonsensical storyline, Santa has only just returned from his Christmas rounds when the head elf discovers that the pages of the toy-delivery list have been mixed up. Santa dispatches seven elf-driven sleighs to the various continents to make amends—leading to a simple matching game in which viewers can select only Europe, Australia or North America on a world map. The text differs slightly depending on the choice, but the quartet of child recipients (all white) and gifts to be dragged into place are the same for each. The app has a strong tendency to crash at various points or if paged too quickly—and there’s no thumbnail index, so the story has to be started from the beginning every time. Moreover, instructions for the first matching game (putting elves in their sleighs) sometimes appear a screen or two beyond the game itself, and bookmarked screens will sometimes flash past out of sequence. Children can opt for either silent reading mode or a dispirited audio narration; in either case, the rhymed text appears just one verse at a time and must be tapped for the next to show.

An assortment of tap-activated giggling elves, color changes and sound effects adorning the cartoon illustrations don’t compensate for fundamental flaws in execution. (iPad holiday app. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hamson Design

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2012

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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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This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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