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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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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