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

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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