This zany version of the oft-told (and oft-app'ed) story makes up for its storytelling shortcomings with lots of...



A high-energy, modern take on the story of a boy and his magic beans, this app's solid presentation and slyly humorous touches make it stand out from other "Beanstalk" adaptations.

Jack, a hyperactive kid who sits in front of the television set playing twitch-inducing video games all day (even as he lives in a tiny cottage on a farm), sells the family cow to buy some beans, climbs a giant beanstalk and discovers a homicidal giant from whom he can steal an enchanted harp and a magic hen. While it doesn't quite match the standard of the Ayars Animation version, which was a more classical take, this app's music, animation and voice work are just as appealing. Each page is packed with small background jokes and items to manipulate, and the characters have a varied "library" of dialogue, so multiple taps do not always bring up the same lines on each page. On the other hand, some of the activities seem thrown in for no good reason; dressing Jack up in clothes and props has no bearing on what he's wearing on the next page, for instance. But overall the jokey  artwork (check out the '80s heavy-metal look of the giant) is enjoyable, even if the text and narration are by-the-numbers and at times sloppy. 

This zany version of the oft-told (and oft-app'ed) story makes up for its storytelling shortcomings with lots of personality. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 25, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Mindshapes

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.


Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet