Plenty of solid visual and tactile stimulation for little would-be farmers.

BIZZY BEAR ON THE FARM

A bear visits Sunny Farm to help with the chores, but he’s pretty helpless without assistance from the toddlers and preschoolers who are “reading” the story.

A bus drops Bizzy Bear off at Farmer Joe’s so he can spend the day helping out on the farm. Interactive elements are signaled by flashing blue dots, though most of the time they must be tapped two or more times to activate the feature. Still, there’s plenty of fun for eager little fingertips—turning on the hose to give the dog a drink, putting lambs in their pen, even controlling the gait of a horse and the direction she will go. Bizzy offers running commentary throughout, making constant observations about the scene or harping on what needs to be done: “That dog looks thirsty,” he says, or “Will you help me feed the pigs?” There’s nothing to signal that all of the interactive elements on the page have been found, leaving readers to assess when it’s time to move on. In read-by-myself mode, the amount of time the speech bubbles stay on the screen can be adjusted. Fans of Nosy Crow’s Cinderella (2011) will recognize the British children behind the voiceovers; their opening chant of “Bizzy Beah / Bizzy Beah” is cute but has major earworm potential.

Plenty of solid visual and tactile stimulation for little would-be farmers. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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