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PETE AND THE SECRET OF FLYING

A technologically respectable app that’s grounded by a subpar and potentially problematic storyline.

An avian iconoclast rises above conventional mores to find his bliss and enlighten others.

When Pete tells his mother he wants to fly she admonishes him never to speak of it again. Being the freethinker that he is, Pete persists in his wanderlust by flapping his wings when no one is watching. One night while his parents are asleep, he sneaks out, climbs a tree falls from the heights and learns to fly. When he returns home other young birds follow suit and—in a reaction that could’ve been mined from the cultural revolution of the ’60s—the parents are “shocked” at the deviant behavior of their youth. The entire digital presentation (interaction, animation, artwork) is both progressive and refreshingly simple. The app is reliably responsive, navigation is breezy, and the narration (which can be switched on or off) is well done. But the story itself lacks logic and substance. If “In the beginning all the birds were walking on the ground,” how did Pete even know what flying was? Why was the idea of flying so scandalous to the grownups? And though mama and papa bird eventually accept Pete’s lifestyle and join the flying club, the moral of the story appears to be that kids must overcome the small-minded beliefs of their parents.

A technologically respectable app that’s grounded by a subpar and potentially problematic storyline. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 15, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Shape Minds and Moving Images GmbH

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

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The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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