Tropical illustrations and cheerful music are at odds with the scary creatures and sound effects, making for a...


An undistinguished story with plodding text and clashing interactions tries to walk the line between humor and horror and doesn’t succeed very well at either.

The Summers family takes a ride on the boat Lollipop on their vacation, but the weather goes bad, and they wash up on a creepy island with an angry volcano monster at its center. They split up into two groups and encounter strange, fantastical creatures like a Quetzalcoatl (winged snake), a Zillard (fire-breathing lizard) and a Catoblepas (horned, armored beast). The castaways seem doomed until one of the kids trips, accidentally dislodging a tree that has been stuck in the mountain’s foot like a splinter. The volcano becomes happy, the clouds clear and a rainbow appears. “Quickly, Man and beast became pals. They played, picnicked, and paraded about.”  The app includes a plethora of features. Tilting the device hints at an unimpressive 3-D effect. Occasional starbursts appear on the screen, and if they’re touched quickly, a Halloween jack-o’-lantern appears with a creepy laugh and trail of black smoke. The characters have their own sound effects and animations, which sometimes interfere with the ability to activate the jack-o’-lanterns. There is a map icon on each page, and periodically a message appears that the viewer has “unlocked” a piece of the map, although the map doesn’t appear to change when that happens.

Tropical illustrations and cheerful music are at odds with the scary creatures and sound effects, making for a less-than-cohesive experience. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Mobad Games

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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