A profoundly homogenous and vacuous effort covered in faux glitter and sparkle.

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TWILIGHT SPARKLE, TEACHER FOR A DAY

From the My Little Pony series

This particular adventure is about generation four of the glimmering equines, but fans of any phase of the franchise will likely enjoy the trip to nostalgia-ville. It is unlikely to convert any new ones, though.

Princess Celestia commissions Twilight Sparkle to teach a history lesson, and Twilight takes the task quite seriously. The details of the story aren’t important, as their collective weight is probably less than a spool of cotton candy (and about as half as nourishing). Illustrations are commercially vibrant, sporting brilliant colors and laserlike images. As for interactive elements, one might think that the collaboration between Hasbro and Ruckus (both very resourceful and highly respected) would yield a product that would razzle and dazzle, especially given the track record of the brand. But this app falls far short. On most pages a starburst indicates various interactive elements that are, by most standards, weak and unimaginative—blinking eyes, flapping wings, flickering flames. The mini games are repetitive and lackluster, and on one of the “find the differences” pages, one element never responds to touch. Readers can collect words along the way to plug in to a Mad Libs–like entry in Twilight Sparkle’s diary, and they also have the option of recording their own narration.

A profoundly homogenous and vacuous effort covered in faux glitter and sparkle. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Ruckus Mobile Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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