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...

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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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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 buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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