The well-done components of this app are really good, but its few oversights and missteps interfere with what would...

LETTER IN A BOTTLE

A young girl receives a mysterious invitation to afternoon tea.

This app has a lot going for it. The illustrations are crisp, creative and colorful; the narration is top-notch; the navigation is brilliantly simple. However, there are two elements that drag it down: a weak conclusion and lackluster interaction. In the story, the girl finds a bottle that contains an anonymous invitation to tea. The bulk of the tale follows the girl’s vivid imagination as she wonders who might have invited her. As she’s fretting over what to wear, a sea gull swoops down and snatches the invitation. Without the mysterious summons, she immediately gives up and heads for home, which leaves readers completely stranded. Since the invitation didn’t have a name or address on it, why should the loss of the piece of paper dampen her curiosity and determination to find the party? It’s superdisappointing when a major plot element suddenly drops off a cliff without any further mention. The story is mildly animated, but there aren’t many touch-and-response opportunities, which may prove frustrating for readers who want to be more a part of the story.

The well-done components of this app are really good, but its few oversights and missteps interfere with what would otherwise be a pleasant reading experience. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Suqoon Project

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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