A saccharine variant on The Giving Tree, but conceived and designed particularly for children with special needs. A portion...

THE TREE I SEE

A happy boy joins chirping birds and other cute little animals around a smiling tree to celebrate the pleasure of sharing.

Boy, skunk, birds, a squirrel and a bee pop up in successive sunny cartoon scenes in the patterned tale, each getting a handshake or some other favor from the tree and uttering a line (“I love nuts!”) both then and in following scenes when tapped. Nightfall brings brief anxiety as the tree loses sight of its snoozing companions until moonlight in the next scene illuminates them. The rhymed text, read woodenly in a child’s voice, runs to lines like, “The skunk walks by and is quite shy / so the tree invites him to climb up high,” and “Sharing with friends is the lesson, you see, / even for a tree or a small child like me.” The software design is better than the art or writing—offering multiple buttons and sliders to configure the background music and other sounds, retractable text boxes on each screen, a large contents strip, manual and autoplay options and a variety of touch-activated animations and effects.

A saccharine variant on The Giving Tree, but conceived and designed particularly for children with special needs. A portion of the proceeds will go to Autism Speaks. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Aridan Books

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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