What this app lacks in originality it makes up for in cuddly familiarity. Bear enchants, even wordlessly, and is coming into...

THE VERY ITCHY BEAR

Employing similar techniques as The Very Hungry Bear (2012), which features the same titular ursine, this story about a persistent flea offers flashes of humor and a neat lesson about scale.

Big, brown Bear must deal with an unwelcome companion, a freeloader named Flea, who is "about to bite, / but not because he's impolite." Using effective snippets of animation, broad sound effects and a neat technical trick of zooming in and out on the tiny Flea when he's tapped, the app is invitingly playful. The illustrations are comical and well-detailed, even if the animation, as in the previous app, feels a little erratic and bouncy. Sometimes the zooming feature requires a bit of work to activate. But Bear's expressions continue to be priceless, and the floating-objects-on-water effects when he lands in the sea are impressive. In fact, a bonus game at the end of the story allows players to build a boat and then sail it on that body of water, a variation on the igloo-building feature of the earlier title. While the app doesn't feel particularly new, the story wraps up nicely with Bear and bitty Flea becoming friends after a rescue.

What this app lacks in originality it makes up for in cuddly familiarity. Bear enchants, even wordlessly, and is coming into his own as an app star young readers will be happy to see again. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Wheelbarrow

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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