A solid technical effort that suffers from a severely shorn narrative.

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BEN THE TRACTOR AND THE LOST SHEEP

Like the sheep featured in it, this app may not seem quite so appealing if it were stripped of its fluffy, soft surface.

Ben the Tractor, a cheery, grinning red tractor, is tasked by Johnny the Farmer with collecting the sheep around the farm and bringing them back to the corral. Amid ducklings, cows and a horse, Ben seeks out the errant sheep, loads them onto his trailer (with the help of a reader's fingers), then unloads them back near the farm. And... that's about the extent of a less-than-thrilling day on the farm. While the app is pretty solid in nearly every area, from its goofy, cartoony animal animations and sounds to its intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface, it doesn't have much of a story or personality. Ben himself doesn't speak or do much more than chug and smile through uninspired text like, "The Tractor was very happy and was going back to the farm." The app also features a collection of digital jigsaw puzzles built from the story pages, but the fun of the puzzles isn't enhanced much by the forgettable farm fiction. And finishing the tale requires finding all the sheep, thus completing Ben's chores. Miss a sheep, and frustrated young readers won't get to "The End" without some backtracking. It's a shame, too, because the clearly labeled menu buttons, whimsical illustrations and solid narration could have gone somewhere.

A solid technical effort that suffers from a severely shorn narrative. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 19, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: ZigZag Studio

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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