Slick graphics, decent interaction, solid storytelling, flawed story.

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GORILLA BAND

Two reluctant music students join forces with several jammin’ jungle musicians to form a band.

This 3-D animated storybook begins with two young gorillas grousing about having to go to piano/violin lessons. Their instructor—a grandmotherly gorilla that hangs from a vine—coaxes compliance, which her young protégés grudgingly furnish. As luck would have it, a self-taught drummer and guitarist are trading riffs just a few trees away. When their hip sounds reach the ears of the students, their teacher invites the improvising apes into the school space, and a new band is born. Readers are invited to poke and punch gorillas to prompt their involvement, and tapping each one produces both snippets of music and dialogue. The only beef parents may have with this story is that the music students continually say things like, “This is Grandma music” and “It’s so old fashioned.” True, those are common sentiments among those who would rather skip the discipline and play “cool” music, but the truth is, the great majority of those who play cool music today do so because they were disciplined in the mastery of their instruments. This story never significantly reinforces the value of that, which could lead little ones to believe that their dream of becoming great without instruction or discipline is a reasonable expectation.

Slick graphics, decent interaction, solid storytelling, flawed story. (iPad storybook app, 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Wasabi Productions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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