The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure is a fun, interactive storybook app based on Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter’s The Trip, with versions for both iPad as well as iPhone available through iTunes.
This new application, developed by Silver Dolphin, differs greatly from – and should not be confused with – the straightforward adaptation of Little Critter stories developed by another company.
It is worth explaining to readers that the original Mercer Mayer title focuses on a car trip to a camp site as told in pictures. Yet the text, although also telling the tale of this long family outing, included a heavy use of alphabet letters, from A to Z, such as B for Bags and C for Car, as well as words adults can relate to, possibly even more than their children can, such as E for the car’s engine overheating, letter M for the mess the Critter kids made in the back of the car, or T for the flat tire they get along the way, creating a witty alphabet book enjoyable for all – children and parents alike.
Here, The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure includes two sections – the Reading Adventure where children can follow along with highlighted narration and simply reading this app like a book.
In the Reading Adventure, Little Critter himself narrates this tale of a family trip to the lake. Those familiar with the published title will note the many original illustrations included within as well as the lack of the alphabet elements seen in the direct telling of this story. Instead, one will notice the abundance of items one can tap on within each page, each marked with color-coded dots, denoting the type of interaction available.
Blue dots include added animated moments and added lines of dialogue spoken directly by the characters that nicely propel the story along as well as other details, whereas orange hotspots are alphabet flash cards, bringing the alphabet element back into this story. Green dots are objects one can collect in Little Critter’s back pack – important details that one needs to collect as they will be used later in the story to continue on, but the included map will let readers know what page to check out if a needed object was not collected the first time around.
I really enjoy the animated moments which work seamlessly within Mayer’s colorful, classic illustrations. Another interesting inclusion is a choice of driving through the country or city, allowing children to make this choice with the aid of the map that one can tap on to choose which route to take – first during the outing – as well as using this map as a page selector – always a nice choice.
Other interactive elements are included within these different destinations, such as offering an apple from a nearby tree to encourage a horse to leave the road after placing the apple in and then retrieving it from the backpack.
A few fun educational mini-games are also included such as matching colored cars to their matching color words or a food-themed sequencing game that adds even more content to this engaging children’s application.
Children will love the abundance of items to tap on and to collect for later. I am happy to say that the style Mayer delivered in the published title is alive and well in this new app as well as a new scene of the family visiting the beach.
It is also worth noting that a related app, The Trip Little Critter GamePak, is also available for purchase for both iPad as well as iPhone and includes a series of story-themed actives – also an app worth checking out.
I have not come across many apps for Mother’s Day, but I did want to let readers know about Just Me and My Mom – Little Critter, based on the title of the same, now a lovely adaptation by Oceanhouse Media based on the book of the same name.
This is a delightful story of Little Critter, a small anthropomorphized boy-like creature who goes on a trip to the city with his mom.
Both parents as well as children can relate to this charming story, as Mom and Little Critter take a train and visit a museum in a big city.
Adults will appreciate how this story, as well as the other Little Critter titles, each written from Little Critter’s point of view and now include excellent optional child-read narration.
Here, it is obvious that there is more to the story being told by this lovable character who causes lots of trouble along the way on his big city adventure, such as Little Critter loses the train tickets, touches a dinosaur egg much to the displeasure of the guard at the museum, and is not thrilled with clothing shopping – all moments in the life of Little Critter that all moms can relate to.
Do note the expressive facial expressions seen on the various adults in this wonderfully illustrated story as Little Critter causes a commotion in many different scenarios, each of which I would not put past my own son, especially when he was a younger boy.
I also appreciate being able to see the drawings by author Mercer Mayer up close as these illustrations are panned and zoomed in on to draw the eye – a nice touch as there is a lot to see in these fun and busy city scenes.
Little Critter apps are great for new readers, and the stories tend to be short, with a few words on a page that go far in terms of storytelling.
Even when reading this book to oneself, one can tap on a word or even paragraph to hear it read out loud – a nice aid for children who may still need help with certain words.
This book can be listened to with or without Auto Play and also read by oneself. One can also choose to record one’s own narration as well as share this recording with others who also have this same app.
Very nice sound effects can be heard such as train sounds and ambient city sounds. Also note the ability to tap objects and characters around the page to see and hear these items labeled with text as well as spoken narration – elements that can now be turned off if one wishes.
It is also nice that Oceanhouse Media has now included a menu of pages to use as a reference as well – always a nice touch.
Mothers will certainly relate to the antics that ensue in this Little Critter title. This is a story that is easy to love on many levels, making it a nice choice to share for Mother’s Day.
This app is currently free, thanks to Oceanhouse Media – a gift to mothers and children alike. Do check it out.
Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow is a universal app that I have eagerly been anticipating for quite some time, and I can say with much excitement that this app is worth the wait.
This is a re-telling of the classic story with a few great twists along the way. A special app, Nosy Crow has added some wonderful new elements to a classic story, specifically allowing children to choose one of many paths they would rather take as Little Red travels through a forest on her way to Grandma’s, collecting numerous objects along the way as well as meeting new characters.
From the moment this app opens, the beautiful, bright and bold animation that Nosy Crow fans expect can be seen. The look of this app, as is the case with the other Nosy Crow storybook apps, is simply stellar in every way dealing with animation.
Also of note is the layered 3D effect one can see as the moving of one’s device will change the perspective one can see at any given angle – a nice touch but a little sensitive for my taste as the effect can look jumpy if the device is held with a shaky hand.
There are two ways of enjoying this book. “Read and Play” allows children to follow along with highlighted narration as seen as the main text and narration of this story, as well as read along with spoken extra lines of dialogue heard when a character is tapped.
“Read by Myself” allows children to read on their own the text and speak bubbles without the aid of narration and gives children the choice of the speed in which the lines of text are seen on the page, allowing those new to reading to slow down these words for an easier time reading – a very helpful inclusion.
There are a lot of interactions to partake in, such as gathering up fun and inviting foods like as cake, cheese, sandwiches and produce to share with Grandmother as well as fun moments of Little Red and her mom gently telling readers what to leave at home when users try to add non-food items to the basket as well as other items that will not travel well. It is also nice to be able to drag these characters around the page, making them look as if they are walking, even running around the page for a very nice effect.
After making up a basket, Little Red is off to Grandmother’s, walking through the forest. As one may expect, Little Red meets the Big Bad Wolf on her journey, wonderfully stylized with a cap and plaid pants as a nod to vintage styling that makes me smile.
Little Red is able to pass the Wolf and later comes to a fork in the path where she needs to make a decision on which way to continue. Both paths are marked with signs that demonstrate the item one may need to collect such as flowers, feathers, acorns, or even a spider.
Children will enjoy each of the activities that will allow Little Red to collect the items of interest, such as catching feathers from a bird flying overhead, pulling thistles from a moose’s fur, gathering flowers, acorns or a bucket of water, as well as helping a bear pour honey to collect a jar of one’s own. A maze involving a spider’s web is included as is a “Whack-a-Mole” styled game where one grabs dandelions from a mole. There is also a delightful “Simon” styled music game where Little Red needs to repeat the musical sounds made by a monkey willing to give away his whistle for five correct answers.
After completing three of these sections, Little Red will arrive at Grandmother’s house to find the Wolf in Grandmother’s bed, who threatens to eat Little Red.
I adore Little Red’s defensive posturing when being threatened by the Wolf as well as the very cinematic close-up shots of Little Red and the Wolf, reminiscent of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” that will make adults smile. Here Little Red strikes with the objects she collected along her way, such as tickling the Wolf with feathers, making him sneeze from flowers or momentarily shocking him with a splash of water to the face. This fight comes to a conclusion in three different ways, from a police officer taking away the Wolf after hearing Little Red blow the whistle, scaring the Wolf away with the large spider who came along for the ride in the basket, or covering the Wolf in honey and who then gets chased away by bees, never to bother Little Red again.
After unlocking the wardrobe where Grandmother was trapped, they sit down to eat what was packed in the basket, helping Little Red unpack the foods and feeding the characters, helping them to eat and ending this exceptional interactive application.
Although this app has been compared to the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books, I am pleased to see that although decision-making is part of this story, these choices are age-appropriate for young children of all ages and do not truly change the outcome of this story.
I mention this as I have begun to read my son “Choose Your Own Adventure” titles and I feel that negative conclusions to the choices my boy has made can stress him, and for now he does not enjoy these titles as much as I had hoped.
Here, Little Red’s choices of paths will allow her to play different mini-games with fanciful characters she meets along the way, but there are no pitfalls in the choices one can make within this story, and all roads lead to Grandmothers house, so the comparison to a true “Choose Your Own Adventure” or “Which Way” book is not spot-on in my opinion, which I feel children actually benefit from.
I am also quite pleased to see what a strong female character Little Red is in this re-telling, as I am with the illustration of Little Red’s mother who has her own womanly curves, a nice detail that although does not attract attention to itself, is a nice element for children to seen in the world around them.
There are many more points I could make about the high quality of Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow, but I think it may be best just to tell readers that this is an app worthy of purchase that a wide range of children and their adults will adore.
Zoe’s Green Planet is an interesting universal application about diversity. This is the story of Zoe, an inhabitant of a green planet with a demographic of entirely green people, seen vividly with the use of illustrations with heavy paper mache elements creating a subtle 3D effect, as well as a tactile, slightly distressed feel that I find appealing, as I do the numerous shades of green that make up the palette of this app.
One day, a red space ship lands on the green planet. Inside is a red family who would like to visit other planets and makes a home on the green planet. They have a daughter who is Zoe’s age, and they go to school together and become friends.
The girls have fun together but also face a difficult time dealing with another child who teases the new girl for being different. The parents from the red family become homesick and they fly their spaceship home.
The concept of diversity is nicely introduced here for children, and the red colors seen in this new family really pop off the screen, adding an engaging visual style.
This app is narrated with a choice of both English as well as French languages. A few mini-games are also included, such as sorting by type as well as color, two arcade-styled games and a memory game with musical elements, each which can be found within the story as well as found within the menu page of this app. Do search these pages as well for hidden hotspots.
The look of this app is colorful and unique and quite well-meaning indeed, but I am on the fence about the stylings of the red Takino family. Styled with Asian – presumably Japanese – details such as kimono-esque garb and a planet with Japanese temple-type buildings, I must admit I was uncomfortable with what could also be seen as Asian stereotypes including a slitted Asian eye, and even worse, the buck teeth seen on Mr. Takino, reminiscent of an ugly stereotype from many years ago that took me by stunned surprise that this detail is included.
It is also worth noting that the current price of $2.99 seems expensive in comparison to other apps at this price point.
This is the first in a series of apps based on colors, presumably including the very nice paper mache illustrations seen in Zoe’s Green Planet. I have appreciated the look of this app enough to be curious to see the others in the series as well.
When I first read about the app Little Dead Riding Hood, I assumed that it was a novelty platformer with zombie elements, as these types of apps can easily be found in iTunes, typically devoid of any educational value.
I am so very happy that I gave this app a closer look because my assumptions were totally wrong, as Little Dead Riding Hood is an interactive storybook app with both English and Spanish translations included as well as the highest of production values – a refreshing tale on this classic story of Little Red Riding Hood. Although I highly recommend this app, this recommendation is a qualified one, and here is why.
There is a lot of the macabre in Little Dead Riding Hood, and as I was enjoying this app, I did say to myself a few times with a smile, “Well, they went for it” in ways that will please or displease families depending on their sensibilities.
This is the re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, who has died many years ago, along with her parents, who from the grave want to kill Grandma and steal her inheritance. To do so, they come up with a plan to poison Grandma by sending the corpse of Little Red to Grandma complete with utterly poisoned food and drink. Grandma does get poisoned, dying a gruesome death, after first having defended herself from Little Red, living up to her old nick-name “Ramba” using any and all fire weapons in a scene that is glorious with presumed cartoon violence that also made me smile.
Styled with equal parts Tim Burton, Eddie the Mummy and Seth McFarlane, this app, with wonderful, top-notch black and white illustrations and bold pops of color, is an acquired taste that will offend some families a great deal. Others will really appreciate the humor and biting wit that this irreverent app offers.
The included narration is perfection, as is the included music and I appreciate how the book of this app is lengthy, with a page of text found on pages complete with beautifully hand-crafted and sepia-toned drawings, lovingly distressed in keeping with the style of this app. Do also tap these characters to read speech bubbles that add to the richness and fun of this rather odd application.
This is a highly cinematic app, so it is a real treat that this app also includes the original sketches and productions while still showing the making of this app – quite interesting indeed. Also appreciated is the menu of pages, always helpful to readers.
Make no mistake, this app included a rather dead and decaying Little Red, the graphically poisoning of a family member, guns and other military-inspired weapons which get pointed and shot at Little Red, a vividly farting wolf who later gets attacked by snakes, maimed in a metal animal trap and stepping on a bomb which explodes and launches the animal into the air, plus other details I am sure I have overlooked – all at the height of storytelling.
This is an app that I have chosen not to show to my five year old son, as he is a sensitive soul who would not enjoy this adaptation at this time, and I can understand parents of toddlers and the preschool set not having much interest in downloading this app as well, but for grade school and older children through adulthood who have acquired a taste for gruesome humor and parody, this is a perfectly realized application in every way possible.
Even though this app is one that many families will disregard as maybe they should, I would like to recommend this app for older grade school if not middle and high school students, especially those in media study, as great thought was put into the developing of this app as is seen in the included sketches, and adults can talk a lot about the choices made in this app, from modernizing a classic story to the satire as well as the dramatic structure – well-crafted in every way.
This app demonstrates to older children that the envelope can be pushed while maintaining a level of quality that cannot be denied, even if certain subject matter may not be for everyone.
Families will need to make up their own minds about whether or not this app is for their family, but I can say that I personally enjoyed Little Dead Riding Hood immensely, and I welcome other tales like this from an incredibly talented group of developers.
PICME Moviebook – You are the Star is a very nicely conceived storybook that includes a personal photograph used to create a main character in this children’s app.
I have enjoyed this storybook, which includes a photo of my son, a fun detail I have really enjoyed.
I have seen books such as this in the past. Here, however, the child who is created with the included image becomes more alive and is really more a part of the story than in other apps such as this.
In PICME, my son’s likeness is used to create a boy character who delivers a piano to a friendly lion named Juno, who claims to be able to play, yet in reality needs to practice a great deal to be able to make true music with this instrument.
There is much that I really appreciate in this interactive storybook. First, two distinct versions of this tale are included – a movie as well as a storybook, and although the plot of this story remains the same, I especially appreciate how the video is not just a straight animated version of the book. It is also a different yet related experience which adds more characters and nuances that work perfectly in this movie. The book, however, is a little more simplistic, making a nice, tight narrative that I equally appreciate.
I am smitten by how my son’s character moves around the page, moving the piano, clapping politely as well as other pantomimes. I am not sure if it is the super-cute expression in the photo that I have used, but this character almost seems to wink at me, truly coming to life as his body moves with grace. Although this boy does not speak in the story, I feel as though he makes a great mime, including hand gestures and other ways he shows communication – wonderful details often not found in apps where a photo is used to create a character.
Other interactive hotspots are also included, sometimes propelling the story, as well as other areas to tap that include brief movements that tend not to take away from this charming application that includes a piano section as the new created character knows how to play, helping Juno learn. There is also a brief primer on other musical instruments as well as an interactive counting section.
Narration is included, which I really enjoy, as I do the voices for Juno and the other animal friends, creating an app that is more sophisticated and appealing to adults than I expected.
The same can be said for the video section of this application. I enjoy how this area starts out with a scene taking place moments before the included storybook. The video is also a little witty and biting while being utterly child-appropriate, with a message about practicing and perseverance as this lion, at first not being able to play the piano well, works hard to achieve his goals.
To add a children’s photo, this app includes a camera and allows users access to the camera roll from the iPad to choose a picture from. Once an image is selected, adults are able to rotate and re-size the photo to fit an included template that can then be further adjusted to give users a better way of customizing the chosen mage, such as allowing my son’s crazy hair in the frame, originally cut off by the template yet restored by me as I make additional tweaks.
A choice of a pink as well as darker tan skin tone is included to match closer the skin tone of the photo with the body the photo becomes a part of, but I would love to see a few more skin tone choices such as a paler, more realistic yellow-tone as well as other colors to represent other ethnicities such as Spanish or Asian.
Even with this minor note, I am glad that the cropped photo is included in this app as a future choice, allowing one to bypass the photo trimming. Four separate photos can be saved at once, including these characters’ names and personalizing this app as well as including the character’s gender in a way charming and seamless.
I had no expectations when first checking out this title, and I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with the quality of this delightful app.
I would love to see more of these interactive stories developed in the future. The use of an included photo is highly effective and sure to please the children who will feel as if they are truly starring in this movie and storybook app.
Happy Easter, Little Critter is a lovely interactive storybook – a nice title for Easter that includes optional child-read narration and the ability to tap to see and hear objects labeled accordingly.
This is a simple story starring Little Critter, his family and friends as they spend the day doing Easter activities. I always enjoy these Little Critter titles developed by OceanHouse Media as Little Critter is a relatable character for children, here waking up early to see if the Easter bunny has come to his house, starting Easter Sunday with all the festivities.
It makes me smile that Little Critter is not a fan of getting dressed up to go to church the way his sister is or how he finds it difficult to see over the large Easter hats that the ladies seated in front of him are wearing – real-world complaints of this generally good-natured child-like anthropomorphized animal.
I enjoy how this app also spends time exploring secular activities such as a picnic, Easter egg-dyeing and an egg hunt that can be enjoyed by children who don’t specifically celebrate the religious aspects of this holiday, but who may have a more general knowledge of Easter.
Because two of our local Easter activities were snowed out recently, it is nice to be able to search for the 100 Easter eggs hidden among these pages, especially during the scenes of this story relating to the egg hunt that Little Critter goes on – a nice touch – as is the ability to search for the friendly mouse hidden in each picture as well.
I also greatly appreciate the included details of this Easter egg hunt, such as too many children fighting over eggs, overlooking an egg until it is too late and found by another child, or helping a young child find eggs who found none on her own – issues that those may face during an egg hunt, making this a nice story to read – possibly before Easter so that boys and girls will know what to expect and how to act in these situations.
Jubitron the Girl Robot: The Lovely Little Picnic is a charming universal, interactive storybook.
As the name may imply, this is the story of Jubitron, a robot girl and her friends Little Birdy and Mr. Alligator as they go on a picnic that gets rained out and then fly high into the air on a space ship to see where the rain is coming from.
At first, before the gang in the story experience their rained-out picnic, I thought this story was cute, if not a little simple for my taste, but I really enjoy their time spent up in space discovering where all the rain came from, adding whimsy and a sense of style that also reminds me of Poyoco, a favorite TV show of ours.
This is high praise, to be sure, as this app ventures into the realm of quirky mythology that I really enjoy, as I do the included narration which also reminds me of the unseen narrator from Poyoco – an element which effectively works within this app as well.
This app is nicely illustrated and music is also included, upbeat and fun, as is the included music well as other musical elements found within the interactions that will entertain both young children as well as their adults.
I like that hints can be found if one opens the tap found at the bottom corner of the page. It would be nice if there were an option for this added information to be narrated as well.
I do think Jubitron the Girl Robot: The Lovely Little Picnic is best suited for babies, toddlers and young preschoolers, but also for their parents who will admire the sophistication this app has to offer as all of the elements – the plot, illustrations, narration and music as well as interactions – are of a very high caliber.
This is a creative tale that in turn may stimulate the imagination of the young children listening to this story. For this reason, it is easy to recommend Jubitron the Girl Robot: The Lovely Little Picnic.
Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime is a lovely universal application that brings classic nursery rhymes to devices, now with delightful interactive features.
I really appreciate the look of this app, as the style used is certainly vintage in appearance, creating an interesting dichotomy as children can tap to create movement among the characters and objects around the screen as well as move the words around the page which will be of interest to those interested in graphic design as well.
Traditional tales include Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty and The Three Blind Mice, each with interactive elements and whimsical details oftentimes with the use of a physics engine which allows children to toss objects around the screen.
Also included is the spinning of certain details, such as the Three Blind Mice running in circles that reminds me of the details one may see in a Victorian Arcade, allowing children to use this period technology with the swipe of a finger – interesting elements adults may enjoy more than their children.
It is also worth noting that the three blind mice do get their tails cut off with a knife as an included interaction – a moment I enjoyed – yet I can see this detail not being a favorite among some families.
This app contains narration allowing children to listen to these short rhymes themselves and parents will enjoy the fine details included such as the use of texture found among these pages that include paper art, de-saturated hues and distressing that add even more period charm to this app.
I do love the way this app merges the period look with technology – something I have seen done well before, but oftentimes without narration – unlike this app.
For these reasons and more, Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime is worth checking out, allowing children to obtain a foundation in nursery rhymes that many families have forgotten about, also including fun and creative interactions that will keep modern kids engaged.
Dandelion is an interactive universal app with a wonderful sense of style, developed as an app with a message about bullying.
There is a lot that I enjoy about this app, recently chosen as an application of special interest in the books category by iTunes.
The most striking element of this app is the sense of style, shown not quite in black and white, as more of a sepia-tone look is included, adding the slightly warmer shades of subtle desaturated browns – an interesting choice – which allows areas of the screen to pop softly, adding a vintage, almost timeless look to this app that is also quite modern-looking as seen on the screen of one’s device.
Likewise, the illustrations and simple, animated moments are gorgeous to look at as are the intriguing characters, especially that of the main character Benjamin, drawn without a face and who seems to glow from the backlit device. These images are beautiful and will stay with readers for a long time, especially the ability to blow fluff off a dandelion – lovely to explore, to be sure.
Very good narration is also included if one wishes, and I enjoy how this app and the page turns are styled to look like one is looking through a view finder, including a 3D effect that one can see when moving one’s device, as well as an artful use of mild distressing which adds a bit of texture as well.
This is the story about how Benjamin is being bullied by boys from The School for The Misguided – what to me is presumably a reformatory of sorts, “A place for Ne’er Do Wells and Bullies.” However, it is unclear to me if this is the school that he attends or has to pass by on the way to his own school.
As only one school is noted in this story, I will assume that Benjamin attends The School for The Misguided, and this is an element that I have a hard time getting past. How could this child be thrown into such an institution where he will obviously be eaten alive, as he is less than half the size of the other students and a sensitive soul who would not fare well in this environment?
It is worth noting that Benjamin is not just being teased, he is being physically harmed, needing to tend to wounds. Because of all this, while blowing on dandelions, he begins to make wishes for the school to disappear, which never happens, but he learns from these dandelions how to let go of his fears and and gain confidence.
I find many of the elements of this app quite moving, such as the included music and imagery.
I do find the actual story, written in rhyme, to be underwhelming. yet if one wants to take away from this tale a sense of confidence and a lack of being afraid, this I welcome them to do so.
For me, it may have worked better if the main character were dealing with a different sort of bully, more subtle in the approach, such as an outsider girl dealing with “mean girls,” who could possibly rise above the mental daggers thrown her way, but if one is being physically harmed by dangerous teens with one foot in jail, confidence will go only so far.
I have no doubt that the chance to blow the dandelion fluff as well as the mythology of Benjamin making his wishes will be moving to anyone reading or listening to this story, but with the setup included here, more than inner confidence is needed to deal with the situation as it has been written, leading me to struggle to understand the message of this application.