Fun? Yes. But not particularly helpful for developing vocabulary or reading skills beyond the initial level.

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WHEN I GROW UP...

A bright and appealing introduction to different professions ultimately falls short of its ambitions.

Colorful illustrations showing 16 different occupations will engage young children as they think about jobs they might do when they grow up. The cartoons have a hip, trendy feel, and there is a refreshing range of nationalities, ethnicities and genders represented. While this app is designed to promote vocabulary, spelling and reading development, though, it does so with limited success. The beginning levels introduce the names of the different professions, either on autoplay loop for very young children or with limited interactivity for toddlers. Families wanting to introduce different languages will appreciate the ease of switching among six different languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Catalan. However, the subsequent learning-to-read levels (there are five in all) progress too quickly without adequate support. New readers will have great difficulty sounding out or learning to spell words such as “entrepreneur” or “journalist.” While the “Easy spelling” level provides shadowed letters to guide children in dragging and dropping the scattered letter “tiles” to spell the occupation pictured, the next level provides no scaffolding or support. The full sentences in the final level are complex sentences inappropriate for beginning readers, especially when reading in a new language.

Fun? Yes. But not particularly helpful for developing vocabulary or reading skills beyond the initial level. (iPad informational app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sanoen

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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