Regardless of which reading mode is chosen, this app has one speed: s-l-o-w.

SPATTER & SPARK

A peppy yet, paradoxically, painfully slow story about a porcupine on an artistic quest.

Spatter the porcupine wants to give a gift to Hubert, a baby crow. Since he loves to paint, Spatter decides to paint Hubert’s picture. But there’s one problem: He’s never seen the baby crow. Spatter finds his inventor friend Spark, and the two set out to find a way to help Spatter catch a glimpse of his would-be subject. The graphics are bright, crisp and clear, but the corresponding animation and interaction are exceptionally sluggish. When Spatter arrives at Spark’s house, it’s covered with levers and tubes and spring-loaded contraptions. The lull in dialogue will undoubtedly prompt little fingers to get busy, but alas, none of the gadgets pays off or advances the story until the next screen (which isn’t accessible until a listless arrow appears). From there, Spark’s random inventions bog down the plot, but one finally inspires the duo to find a supposed solution to Spatter’s problem (which ends up being a moot point in the end). All of the bonus activities are in-app purchases, which is sure to cause frustration for both parents and children.

Regardless of which reading mode is chosen, this app has one speed: s-l-o-w. (for iPad 2 and above) (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Polk Street Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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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