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

PETE AND THE SECRET OF FLYING

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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

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 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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