Readers will become immersed in this spectacular world, just as they might with a high-quality animated movie.



A gorgeous picture-book app adapted from a French animated film.

When beloved Aunt Eleanor dies, she leaves a mysterious old house to a young couple, a seemingly worthless Russian doll to their daughter and a library of books to their young son, Nathaniel. A struggling reader, Nathaniel is underwhelmed by his gift until he discovers that the books' characters have come to life, albeit in miniature. But a storm destroys part of the roof of the old house, and the books must be sold off to an antique dealer to help pay for repairs. When Nathaniel fails to read a secret inscription on the library wall, a wicked fairy shrinks him down to the size of the storybook characters, and he is taken along with all the books to the warehouse. Nathaniel must get back to the house and properly read the inscription or the storybook characters will fade into nothingness. There are more plot elements than can comfortably fit into a short app, particularly near the end, where the story gets a bit muddled, but the high production values more than make up for this. The stunning animation makes full use of varying perspectives, rich colors and patterns and is paired with an eerie and evocative soundtrack. There is a French-language option, as well as a pop-up screen with options that illustrate or define some words, identify vowels and switch from typeset letters to cursive. One minor quibble is that there is no easy way for readers to turn off the narration and read the book on their own.

Readers will become immersed in this spectacular world, just as they might with a high-quality animated movie. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Chocolapps

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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