GRIMM'S RAPUNZEL

Visually unique with engaging computer-generated graphics and thrilling transitions between a virtual book and pop-up playsets, this take on long-haired Rapunzel's tower imprisonment just misses enhancing the well-worn tale by veering too far from the original story. The 3-D employed in the service of this app isn't the kind viewed with special glasses; instead it's the 3-D graphic effects common in video games and computer-animated movies and TV shows. Used here, the effects turn a digital representation of a fairy-tale book into a moving, animated pop-up paradise where trees, hills and objects readers can manipulate with their fingers spring from the pages. In between lightly illustrated pages of old-timey text are the interactive pages, which invite readers to grow flowers for Rapunzel's mother, assist a prince on his quest to find the trapped princess and even drop vegetables into a pot for a romantic dinner. Strangely, there are no interactive pages or mini-games involving Rapunzel's famous hair, a glaring omission. If only the story were as imaginative and full of flair as the beautifully rendered pop-up pages (which themselves seem oddly middle-American next to the old-fashioned look of the text). Instead, this version of the Brothers Grimm story is altered and truncated, exiting on a limp happy ending: The witch gives up Rapunzel without much of a fight, and, except for a brief detour to the Desert of Doom, there's not much adversity to overcome. Disappointing. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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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 pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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