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MOTHER HOLLE

An insipid rendition, with a stingy assortment of anemic interactive features.

A prim, Grimm tale in which two characters receive their respective just deserts for industry and laziness is poorly served by bland illustrations and clumsy design.

Forced down a well to recover a dropped spindle, the beautiful and hardworking stepdaughter (“the Cinderella of the family”) rescues burning cakes and shakes a tree full of ripe apples. She then so pleases long-toothed old Mother Holle with her housework that she receives a shower of gold. Her ugly, lazy stepsister leaps down the well in hopes of a similar prize but behaves badly and instead earns a shower of “tar” that “stuck to her as long as she lived.” Lightly edited from 19th-century translations, the text is complete but appears on each screen only piecemeal and in varied sizes before coming to a sudden, jarring close. Though Mother Holle’s teeth look disquietingly like vampire fangs, the other women are rendered in a twee style, with flowing dresses on undersized bodies and fixed expressions beneath big, disheveled hair. Animations are both rare and strictly minor league, and the touch-activated ones too often effect premature page turns by accident. Semi-transparent icons on each screen control the sonic-wallpaper background music and offer an optional, mannered audio reading either with visible text and manual advance or in a text-free auto-advance mode; .

An insipid rendition, with a stingy assortment of anemic interactive features. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Imagination Stairs

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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WHAT THE ROAD SAID

Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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TINY LITTLE ROCKET

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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