Pretty at first glance, but unlikely to engage children more than superficially.

READ REVIEW

JACK THE WOLF

A saccharine forest-friendship tale chock-full of cute little bugs, frogs, spiders and other wildlife ready to pulse and giggle with a tap.

The story is cast (and also read by the optional narrator) in an earnest tone despite an oxymoronic opening: “One day a young wolf cub named Jack sat in a forest clearing and stared at the night sky.” It pairs Jack with a fallen star that needs help from a spider and an owl to get back to the sky and reattached to its celestial home. Notwithstanding Jack’s “Oh, I feel so lonely sitting here by all by myself,” his cluttered house and each moonlit, elaborately finished, cartoon-style woodland scene is positively festooned with large-eyed small animals. They leap, croak, flit away, wake up, fall down or otherwise respond to taps while background music tinkles away. And just to add some confusion to the sugar rush, a shadowy, wolf-shaped figure lurks in the bushes in two scenes before slinking away entirely. What’s that about? Readers who (rightly) judge the story worth no more than a quick run-through will find as diversions five coloring pages and five jigsaw puzzles. These are, happily, accessible from any screen.

Pretty at first glance, but unlikely to engage children more than superficially. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Yabra

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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