Despite the beguiling title, give this one a miss.




Noisy, chaotic and overstuffed, this sheriff’s hunt for small-time, mostly furry criminals shoots itself in the foot.

The Wild West town of Animaland is disrupted by several bands of “Animal Antics,” a euphemism for masked bandits causing trouble. A stumpy-looking giraffe with no neck tells Silver Star the Tiger, the town’s sheriff, that he must clean up the town. For the rest of the stroll through Animaland, readers try to pick out the “Antics” from the other animals, a constant parade of monkeys, bears, pigs, lobsters and even the odd octopus. Nothing makes much sense, and even as the narration tries to unspool the story, animal noises, scattered bits of dialogue and sound effects compete for attention. Animations never rest, and little question marks pop up and blink, offering even more visual clutter. Activating the option to introduce (poorly) written text to the story turns the page into a mess with little room to breathe. All the animals, even the ones causing the town’s trouble, have identical smiles, and the sheriff, troublingly, has eyeballs that roll around in circles. There’s a nice puzzle feature, multiple languages on offer and lots of social options to contact the developers of the app, but the story itself, if readers can get past the distractions, is lengthy and uninteresting.

Despite the beguiling title, give this one a miss. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: ZigZag Studio

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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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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