Too bad the story doesn’t match the app’s technical competence. Luckily, there are enough things to play with inside to make...

THE TALE OF THE MISSING ACORNS

This overly cute mystery is admirable without being memorable.

Mother Squirrel, a Disney-worthy critter who wears a giant pink kerchief, loses her acorns to a burglar. Her quest to retrieve them will take her through many parts of the forest before she returns home to discover an unexpected surprise put together by her animal friends. (Spoiler: It’s a surprise party.) Kids may be enchanted by the lush artwork, in which every creature has beautiful, cuddly fur or perfectly pretty feathers. But for adults reading with them, Mother Squirrel's extended hunt soon becomes repetitious, even interminable. Much more interesting than the saccharine story is a set of story challenges, such as an exercise to divide up treats on a scale so both sides are equal in weight or a picture that's revealed by connecting letters of the alphabet. In its presentation and technical bona fides, the app soars. It has easy-to-navigate menus and doesn't trap readers on a page with an activity without allowing some sort of escape hatch to advance the story. A separate page of study activities (Numbers, Shapes, Grouping, etc.) is nicely done and varied enough to stay interesting even if each activity is limited to only a handful of problems.

Too bad the story doesn’t match the app’s technical competence. Luckily, there are enough things to play with inside to make it worth a look anyway. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: WiseKids Corporation

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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