Proof positive that not every ugly hatchling is a swan.

THE UGLY DUCKLING

From the Fairy Tales for Clever Kids series

A stripped-down version of the classic tale that is all about its gimmick: An action is required on each screen in order to advance to the next.

Available in four European languages—English, Russian, German and French but not, curiously, Danish—the story is paired to pedestrian cartoons of animals floating slightly over generic country or farmyard scenes. The English translation is notably awkward (“The wind howled in his wings which were much more strongly than before”). A question or direction at the bottom of each screen requires readers to move or tap a visual element in order to advance. These are usually either arbitrary, like “Take the smallest egg to the basket” (the largest would have been more logical, considering the context), or no-brainers, such as “With what did the girl kick the duckling?” There are no other interactive features; no animations, audio narration, music—not even a page index. The story ends where it should but abruptly, with a “next” arrow leading to a link for purchasing other, presumably similarly repurposed tales in the series.

Proof positive that not every ugly hatchling is a swan. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stanislav Ustymenko

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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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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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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