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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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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