THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

This, the umpteenth app based on the familiar tale, rises far above most of its brethren. In this cheery, abbreviated version, all three pigs survive—and so does the wolf, who falls into a pot of boiling water but then rockets back up the chimney and runs off howling. The brightly colored, flat, cartoon-style piglets and their unkempt pursuer (the latter driving a delivery van) float through a sunny woodland setting, paced by narrative lines and side comments written in British idiom. “I only want to come in for a chat,” wheedles the wolf; “I’m puffed,” puns a running piglet. Both dialogue and narrative themselves float over sprightly background music. Though both the animation and the transitions are sometimes stiff, each scene offers a healthy dose of hidden animals, figures that can be flipped or moved back and forth, variable dialogue, changeable angles of view and other features. These are activated by touches, swipes, tilting the tablet and even blowing on the screen (readers can help the wolf huff and puff). A cast of British children reads the basic narrative and the touch-activated dialogue with great expression. Opening with buttons to select a silent text, an interactive “Read and Play” option or a slightly less feature-rich rendition that advances on its own for group showings, this engaging and versatile app is equally suited to single or collective viewing. It amply shows that this old dog—er, pig—can still learn new tricks. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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