A very well-balanced offering that both educates and entertains.


Little polar bear Kodee and his friend Raccoon learn about echoes in this suitably simple storybook for preschoolers and early readers.

Nitrogen Studios—known for providing the stunning computer-generated animation in the wildly popular Thomas and Friends television/DVD franchise—has transitioned into the app market with a notable effort. It is perhaps best described as a mashup of stunning graphics, smooth animation and gentle interaction. Kodee and Raccoon hear someone yell, “Hello,” but they can’t figure out who’s saying it. After deciding the voice is coming from a nearby island, the duo sets out in the titular canoe to investigate. Readers can help them put on life jackets, summon flying fish and prompt a number of delightful movements and responses from various animals and insects. In the end, Kodee and Raccoon discover that the voices they heard were their own, and the concept of echoes is introduced. Readers are subsequently invited to make their own echoes with a record/playback feature. In addition to the app’s (optional) professional narration, various individuals can also record up to three versions of the story, which can be saved for later playback. The only downsides are an annoying pop-up triggered when leaving the echo chamber or going to the home screen that continually requests a review in the app store (the “Do not ask again” button doesn’t halt the appeals) and the fact that it will not work on iPad 1.

A very well-balanced offering that both educates and entertains. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 30, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Nitrogen Studios

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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