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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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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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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