It's an entertaining read that misses greatness...but just bearly.



Two bears from very different places meet and bond over their love of fish in a pleasant-enough app that has a few clever touches.

Big, brown, hungry Bear snags his fishing rod on a small iceberg with a polar bear standing on top of it. Polar Bear comes bearing armfuls of fish, and that's enough to win Bear's affection. "Now a fish to a bear / Is like a chocolate éclair, / It's INCREDIBLY hard to resist. // So the thought of a pile / That would last for a while / Was an offer too good to be missed!" But Polar Bear's stay in the forest doesn't last long, and soon the pair is seeking a cooler, snowier home. While the story doesn't win many points for originality or interesting twists, it's beautifully illustrated throughout. The bears’ fur is lovingly detailed and textured, and the movements of the characters work well with the rest of the app's expert animation. The rhyming text is well-paced and charming; it's read jauntily by Australian actor Angus Sampson. And while the interactive elements aren't mind-blowing—some character movements and a game that challenges readers to find fish hidden within the story—there are a few moments of innovation: The app's title page shows the two bears facing each other as their eyes follow the places where the screen is tapped, for instance.

It's an entertaining read that misses greatness...but just bearly. (iPad storybook app. 2-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Wheelbarrow

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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