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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous.

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THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN

Newbery honoree Barnes (Crown, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 2017) shows a black boy what to expect on his first day as “king” of kindergarten.

A young boy greets the reader with a sweet smile. “The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. / It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown.” The text continues in second person while the boy gets ready for his first day—brushing “Ye Royal Chiclets,” dressing himself, eating breakfast with his mother and father before riding “a big yellow carriage” to “a grand fortress.” The kind teacher and the other children at his table are as eager to meet him as he is to meet them. Important topics are covered in class (“shapes, the alphabet, and the never-ending mystery of numbers”), but playing at recess and sharing with new friends at lunch are highlights too, followed by rest time and music. The playful illustrations use texture and shadow to great effect, with vibrant colors and dynamic shapes and lines sustaining readers’ interest on every page. Text and visuals work together beautifully to generate excitement and confidence in children getting ready to enter kindergarten. The little king’s smiling brown face is refreshing and heartwarming. The other children and parents are a mix of races; the teacher and staff are mostly brown.

Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4074-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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