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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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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