Children lucky enough to encounter this app will understand why certain adults mourn the demise of the night mail, the...

LOCOMOTIVE

A completely delightful interactive ride on an old train full of surprises.

From the beginning, the top-drawer artwork, filigreed, naïve and with burnished, antique color that gleams, captivates. The subject: An old steam engine with a good complement of wagons (as the English would say) filled with burly men and salamis; bananas and a resident monkey; grand pianos, piggies complete with butchers’ marks; milch cows (across-the-pond English, again); cannons and like entertainments. This provides readers with an opportunity to do some counting, learn some new words—stoker, bolster—and engage with the material. Readers can slide a window up and down or load the cannon to produce a bang of festive fireworks, place baggage into a jigsaw, pull a whistle chain and release a bunch of balloons (and then pop them). The text is curious and inviting, with an eccentric cadence that keeps it this side of child’s play: “And of these wagons there’s forty all told, / I can’t tell myself what they can all hold.” The background music is just that: in the background; merry, but pleasingly so. There is also a frame where the train slips quietly into being a toy train—a bow to the imagination—and then out, once again under steam, to resume its journey.

Children lucky enough to encounter this app will understand why certain adults mourn the demise of the night mail, the branch line and the narrow gauge. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Big Rabbit

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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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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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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