Though the app is reasonably well done, it can’t help but perpetuate a seemingly endless musical loop that’s reminiscent of...

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

An interactive audio/visual sing-along.

This Christmas classic has been covered and parodied to pieces and is often one of the first holiday songs kids ever learn. Polk Street Press has taken its turn with the old chestnut, providing cute animated vignettes to go along with the lyrics. Withrow’s colorful and charming illustrations are animated just enough to keep little eyes engaged. Ladies dance, pipers pipe and lords leap as the song progresses. In sing-along mode, the app functions like a video; unless the pause button is pressed, it’ll take readers through all 12 stanzas. Creatively inclined readers can record their own voices singing either alongside the female lead or simply with a piano accompaniment. For iPad 2 users, there’s an added bonus: the option of recording both audio and video of the reader's musical contribution, both of which can be saved for later playback. There’s also a play-along mode that, when launched, pauses after each descending item; readers keep the song going by selecting from a “filmstrip” of numbered thumbnail images.

Though the app is reasonably well done, it can’t help but perpetuate a seemingly endless musical loop that’s reminiscent of “99 Bottles of Beer” or “It’s a Small World.” That said, it’s a suitable choice for those who love the song, if potentially crazy-making for everyone else. (iPad storybook app. 2-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Polk Street Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2011

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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