A well-narrated, interesting tale, but the one-note graphics and limited navigation keep it from the top.



This Kipling Just So tale features great narration, but the viewer-controlled animation doesn’t hold interest for long.

Kangaroo wasn’t always able to stand on his hind legs, hop and use his strong tale to balance himself. In this origin tale, Proud Kangaroo approaches three gods and demands that they make him special, popular and sought after. They refuse until Big God Nqong sends Dingo racing after Kangaroo, and Kangaroo is forced to change into a superior animal if he wants to survive. Bob Knowles’ narration is top-notch, enhancing the rich language, metaphors and description of the Kipling story. Viewers are able to control the Dingo as he chases Kangaroo across the plains of Australia by tilting the iPad side-to-side. This is fun for the first few minutes, but it grows old, distracting from the storytelling. There are some missed opportunities here for enhancements that would have been welcome, such as a map and further exploration of the many places mentioned in the story, as well as graphics and information about the interesting Australian ecology Kipling alludes to, like "spinifex," "ti-trees," "salt-pan" and more. Navigation is limited to play, pause and stop, and there is no way to turn off narration other than by muting the iPad.

A well-narrated, interesting tale, but the one-note graphics and limited navigation keep it from the top. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Pan Piccolo

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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