Nevertheless, it's got a formidable array of virtual mechanics that'll wow any kid who's starting to look beyond LEGOs for...

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THE CRANKAMACALLIT

A brawny antidote to the fairy-tale adaptations and cutesy cartoon-character apps that overstuff the App Store, this ear-catchingly titled story is all about power tools and building.

Promising to help readers build a Crankamacallit, "With buttons and levers and yes, of course—CRANKS!", the app fills its pages with red and green buttons, a toolbox full of building instruments and, later, an orchestra pit built into what looks like a birthday-party-balloon–powered zeppelin. There are blueprints, a silly notepad filled with illustrated engineering notes and the occasional flight of fancy. (Literally, in one case: an inspirational flying goose.) The visual style is a curious mix of near-photorealistic artwork and polished computer animation. Near the end, running a finger along the screen generates a thrilling rotating view of the finished flying vehicle. The sound effects and narration are energetic and satisfying. But many of the elements, including some of the buttons and schematics, are difficult to interact with because the app reads many taps as page turns. It's far too sensitive, and unnecessary to boot, given the page-turning arrows on the bottom corners of each page. In fact, navigation in general is overdone and fussy given the subject matter. There are four different ways to navigate, and that's probably two too many for an app with only 20 pages total.

Nevertheless, it's got a formidable array of virtual mechanics that'll wow any kid who's starting to look beyond LEGOs for bigger building blocks. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 27, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: POLYMASH

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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