Eminently amusing, it also offers not a little bit of history for the taking.

An abecedary with an international cast of creatures who go bump in the night.

From Nepal comes the abominable snowman and from Norway, the ettin (a “foul-smelling two-headed giant” in a perpetual bad mood). From Iceland comes the kraken, and from Arabia comes the roc. There are 26 in all, fittingly, one for each letter in the alphabet. The beasts each get a full screen on which to cavort, and frequently there’s an additional screen for some added action. The screens come with varying amounts of engagement—cued by a pulsing light—but there is always enough to keep interest strong. The creatures are drawn with originality and enough comic flair to make this app more of a scream than a terror. The artwork is also fresh as paint, and the animation is smooth. Certainly one of the highlights is the activation of a toolbar that lets users dig a little deeper behind the beasts for background information, such as traditional characteristics, body composition, what they do for mischievous fun and where, if you are lucky and patient enough, you will find them. The verse is uniformly on the light side: “A Vampire known as Dr. Voss / Politely taught me how to floss.”

Eminently amusing, it also offers not a little bit of history for the taking. (iPad alphabet/informational app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: Duncan Studio

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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