It just goes to show that even with a unique take on a classic, you can still go wrong with the basics. (iPad storybook app....



There must be something about the (rights-free) story of the three homeowner pigs and that hungry wolf that appeals to iPad-app developers. There are so many versions of it—at least 20 by our count—for Apple's tablet that it's fair to say it's become a blank slate upon which to try different features on an easy, familiar story.

Developer So Ouat!'s contribution to the subgenre is that its version is cleanly packaged with Saturday-morning-cartoon–style pigs that live inside a virtual book. Users can choose an ages-5-and-under version or opt for a more complex one for children 6 and up. The "Show Me" tab triggers a feature that underlines words in the text; tapping those words brings up a drawing that defines the word. "Tell Me" reads the story, and an "Explain Me" tab offers the written definitions of tricky words. That's in the older version, which also includes a cursive version of the text, highlighted vowels and French and Spanish editions of the story. Despite the extensive frills, though, the text is sloppy and in need of some polish. "It was hard work and took a long time to build, but the house was even more beautiful and much stronger than the other two little pigs," reads one unfortunate, apostrophe-deprived sentence.

It just goes to show that even with a unique take on a classic, you can still go wrong with the basics.  (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 17, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Chocolapps

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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