See the movie; skip the book. Here’s hoping the next silver-screen adaptation gets the effort it deserves.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS MOVIE STORYBOOK

A spawn of the critically acclaimed 2011 holiday film.

Having spent millions on the development and production of blockbuster CGI films, it’s a no-brainer to put that investment to good use by licensing as many products as possible—especially when the movie strikes box-office gold. This app will undoubtedly ride the lucrative coattails of its 3-D, animated progenitor, but it doesn’t add much of anything to the experience. On Christmas Eve, one toy accidentally doesn’t get delivered, and Arthur is the only one in the Claus family who truly cares about the present-less kid. The story chronicles his all-out attempt to include little Gwen in Santa’s munificence, and in the process he becomes the story’s hero. All 40 pages are adorned with crisp 3-D computer illustrations from the movie—and they are stunning. Readers can briefly animate a few scenes using a scrollbar that provides fleeting moments of interaction and movement. Beyond that, the app is a collection of screenshots accompanied by a run-of-the-mill narrative adapted from the story line of the film. The “bonus features”—which include a “wrap the bike” activity that takes all of five seconds and a “lull the lions” game that’s nothing more than a duplicated page from the story—are astonishingly meager and slapdash.

See the movie; skip the book. Here’s hoping the next silver-screen adaptation gets the effort it deserves.   (iPad storybook app. 4-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: zuuka

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2011

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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