Neatly balancing between too complicated and too simple, this app packs an abundance of cuteness into a deceptively minimalist package. In retelling Aesop's fable about a fearsome lion, an act of kindness and the rescued mouse who returns to repay it, this app modernizes the presentation but wisely eschews unnecessary features. Two unobtrusive white arrows on the lower corners of the screen control page turns (and "ding!" when pressed), but other than that, there's only beautifully textured illustrations, animation that's lively but not overwhelming and some charming voice work and sound effects. The optional narration is read by a young British girl who over-enunciates winningly. The deliberate reading enhances the story of interspecies friendship, as do the unexpectedly effective growls and "squeak, squeak!" audio effects that are played when the titular characters are touched. When the Mouse frees the Lion from a hunter's net and he falls down to the ground, the background scrolls as readers follow his downward trajectory. It's effective without being too showy. The admirable use of restraint sets the story apart from so many cartoons and animated book apps. The illustrations, including extreme close-ups of Mouse's potato-like skin, are reminiscent of Eric Carle's collage artwork. "A little kindness is never wasted, Your Majesty," the Mouse tells the Lion at the story's conclusion. Neither is a little bit of thoughtful, well-executed storytelling—truly adorable. (iPad storybook app. 2-8)

Pub Date: July 22, 2010


Page Count: -

Publisher: Stepworks

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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