Too quickly over, but an altogether engaging version of a classic bit of common literary currency.


From the Aesop in Rhyme series

An arch 19th-century version of the fable, sans explicit moral, is paired to illustrations of silhouette figures flexed in lively ways by barred “Scanimation”-type screens.

Viewers can opt to take an active or a (semi-) passive role. With the Read-to-Me option, a plummy-voiced narrator reads aloud as the pages and the superimposed screen advance automatically. Children reading the text silently can manually swipe to the next page and drag the screen over the black silhouettes at any chosen rate to control the speed with which the contenders nod, gesticulate and dash along. Park’s formal but not stuffy language echoes that of the poet’s contemporary Edward Lear and matches like qualities in the art nicely. “So at last this slow walker came up with the hare, / And there fast asleep did he spy her. / And he cunningly crept with such caution and care, / That she woke not, although he pass’d by her.” Just for fun and a bit of added animation, the text appears on sign boards that swing down from the top and can be cut loose to fall and shatter violently into individual words. The free version of the app is subsidized by ads that run across the top of each frame; readers who prefer a commercial-free experience can upgrade within the app for a fee.

Too quickly over, but an altogether engaging version of a classic bit of common literary currency. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 9, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Auryn

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Hee haw.

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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