There's a useful message for kids about making lemonade, but this beach adventure won't be memorable enough for most readers...

READ REVIEW

ELLA BELLA BEACH ADVENTURE

A rained-out day at the beach leads to a happier day indoors for a group of kids in this sharp-looking but ultimately uninspired app.

Wormy-haired Ella asks her father if she and some friends can spend the day at the beach, but the day's cut short by a storm. Returning home, the group turns the living room into a beach-play area, goes treasure hunting and has an indoor picnic. When the rain stops and the outdoors are again an option, Ella says, "We've already had the best day at the beach ever." The app's art style, with its inviting, soft colors, rounded edges and clean details, is the star feature here, even if it at times feel visually repetitive. But although the objects, characters and backgrounds of each scene seem to invite interaction, there's generally only one interaction per page, and often, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the story. It's a missed opportunity, given the app's otherwise solid presentation. An app with top-notch writing and memorable characters wouldn't need the help. But unfortunately for this one, the text is ho-hum ("The sun shines in through Ella's window. It wakes her up"), and Ella barely stands out from all her similarly cheerful, overstimulated friends. 

There's a useful message for kids about making lemonade, but this beach adventure won't be memorable enough for most readers to see past the lemons. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 4, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Rock Pocket Games

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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