Fans of the grimmest Grimm stories may find this app's artwork to be worth a peek, but the story itself doesn't provide much...

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Lush illustrations are let down by rote, bland storytelling in this oddly paced, tone-deaf version of the Brothers Grimm tale.

The story of the neglected, lost kids Hansel and Gretel starts promisingly. The main characters are drawn like Japanese-animation heroes and surrounded by evocative, detailed artwork emphasizing cracks in walls and rich vegetation dotted with tree stumps and wild animals. But the text (which can be read aloud with optional narration) doesn't pull its weight. When Hansel and Gretel arrive at the witch's insanely adorned home of pastries, lollipops and candy canes, the text merely calls it a "House of sweets" and tells readers limply, "They ran up to the house and started pulling sweets off of it." In no time the stooped witch is pushed into the oven, and the tale has shifted tone, ending darkly in just nine pages. The final image of the reunited family cheering as they gather around a bag of gold and jewels (never mind the mysteriously deceased stepmother and the incinerated witch), the look of deranged joy on the father's face may be too much for some parents to bear. Still, the art is remarkably good for such a mediocre telling, and the sound effects and animation are put to good use. Still, tapping the screen to push someone into a walk-in oven may not be what the iPad's creators envisioned when they designed the device. 

Fans of the grimmest Grimm stories may find this app's artwork to be worth a peek, but the story itself doesn't provide much that is new or different . (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 27, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: DICO

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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