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


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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Aridan Books

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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