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

READ REVIEW

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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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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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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