In the end, this clumsy story offers too little entertainment to hold up to repeated readings. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

THE BLUE JACKAL

AN INTERACTIVE TALE FROM PANCHATANTRA

Adapted from the Indian Panchatantra, a collection of animal fables, this app features crisp illustrations, but it is marred by a disjointed pace and an abrupt, unsatisfying ending.

In the story, a lazy, brown jackal, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Wile E. Coyote, is hunting for food when he accidentally falls into a pot of blue dye. His new hue makes him stand out in the jungle, and before long he's used his unusual color to convince the other animals he's God's messenger. The cartoon characters are soon worshipping their new leader, until the Jackal loses his cool and howls, blowing his cover. Cut immediately to a page spelling out the story's moral: "A coat of paint cannot hide one's true colors," and, "Do not lie to other people. People will discover your lies and would not trust you." (It turns out there were two morals.) Some of the writing in the story itself is just as clunky: "The Blue Jackal's wicked plan has worked and he was rich." (The voiced narration occasionally compensates for some of the grammatical blunders.) A small icon at the top right of each page tells readers how many interactions there are on each page. Pressing the icon also makes those objects shake, alerting young readers to their presence. There's also the option of having a male or female narrator.

In the end, this clumsy story offers too little entertainment to hold up to repeated readings. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Symplifyd

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along.

THE CRAYONS TRICK OR TREAT

The Crayons return in time for Halloween as vampire-costumed Purple coaches the dressed-up wax pack through its first trick-or-treating venture.

It takes five houses’ worth of door-knocks for this skeleton crew of seven to perfect the protocol, with enough outlandish flubs to generate giggles in Halloween-savvy preschoolers. At Door No. 1, Orange, dressed as a jack-o’-lantern, says, “Give us your candy, Lady.” At the next, the gang, encouraged by Purple to “think holiday,” responds with an impressive array of misguided greetings, including “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy American Cheese Month!” Later, White, levitating impressively in a ghost costume, overreacts to Halloween’s “scary” aspect by overwhelming residents with a “BOO!” Peach, unnamed here but recognizably wrapperless from the initial title, exuberantly (and inappropriately) repeats, “I’m naked!” Finally, the troupe perfects its treat-inducing line, though a certain ghost cannot resist an ad lib. This excursion, like many of the holiday-themed Crayon books, has a smaller trim size, a lower price point, and far less complexity than Daywalt and Jeffers’ first two Crayon titles. Still, the pair deftly let young children in on the jokes through funny, hand-lettered dialogue and the visually telegraphed, all-in haplessness of this well-branded band. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-62102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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