Hildegard Sings is a really fun interactive storybook app from the developers at One Hundred Robots that includes a great story, some nice interactions and interesting extras. Options include narration or reading this book on one’s own, and it is nice that the sound effects and music used can still be enjoyed even with one reading this like a classic book, as well being able to turn on or off these sounds independently as well. Versions of this application are available for both iPad as well as iPhone.
I really enjoy this story about Hildegard Rhineheffer, a hippo who works at a restaurant by day, but whose great passion is the opera, singing in the chorus. Finally, after preparing herself for this very moment, she has gotten the break she has hoped for a very long time – to star in the opera, in a performance in front of the queen, no less! Unfortunately, stage
fright sets in, and Hildegard loses her voice. Many pages of this interesting story include what Hildegard does to try and reclaim her lost voice as she is helped by her opera friends, equally concerned by her predicament. She tries to relax in a bubble bath, eating and drinking comfort foods, getting a new hat, and even going to a fortune teller, but nothing helps. Without giving anything away, the ending of this tale is really fun, especially the great reveal to the secret antidote given to Hildegard, already on stage, by the opera’s tenor.
This story will be loved by kids, but adults will equally appreciate Hildegard’s situation. My favorite term for her stress level getting the better of her is “The Yips,” commonly used as a golf or other sports term as a player suddenly loses their abilities. This can sometimes be attributed to physical reasons; other times the problem is similar to that of a baseball
player turned choke hitter, psyching himself out at the plate. I have used this term outside of sports for when a person lets nervousness, fear, or self-doubt get in the way of doing something he was once good at or enjoyed. It is uncomfortable to admit that upon occasion, one may fall into this self-sabotages, and I appreciate this being dealt with in such a light and fun book. I see this type of behavior as my son’s friends refuse to join the group in an activity inexplicably, and as in the story of Dumbo and the use of the “magic” feather, these kids are already know how to “fly,” and I love the ending of this book as a way I can touch upon this when I see my son acting like he has “The Yips” in social situations where his nerves can feel like stage fright.
This book is not only a very funny story, but interactions are also included which are nice as well, and I like that there is a subtle use of hints, pointing the reader in the direction of what is interactive, very well-done.
My favorite interactive moment in this application is when a stagehand is trying to lure Hildegard out of her dressing room. Each tap is answered by a line spoken by this stagehand. They are very witty and numerous, sounding like a never-ending supply of one-liners to get Hildegard to open the door, and I can honestly feel her discomfort. This scene, along with her expression and tears, really conveys her feelings, including how the one-liners are funny but the situation is also kind of sad. Other nice moments include popping balloons in Hildegard’s bath as well as the tossing of tomatoes at the stage as she worries about what will happen when she is performs.
Parents will greatly enjoy that this opera is none other than Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, made famous in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, What’s Opera, Doc? commonly referred to as “kill the rabbit.” The costume of breastplate, blond braids and horned helmet that Hildegard wears is unmistakable, as is the music which adds a nice sense of drama even for children who are not familiar with the cartoon.
This application can and will be enjoyed by the entire family. One does not need to use this story as a platform to talk about stage fright or “The Yips” as I would call it, but it is nice that one can reference this tale in this way if the situation arises.
Readers will also enjoy the extras included: a memory game where one turns cards over to make pairs, a wonderful series of opera posters staring Hildegard with sly humor parents will appreciate, as well as a nicely written epilogue, something I wish I saw more often in storybooks. A glossary of opera terms will also be added, something I am excited about.
I am happy that Hildegard Sings, a story based on a book now out of print, is available to iPhone and iPad users. I really enjoy this app. I have been a big fan of each of One Hundred Robot’s applications, I am excited to see what they come up with in the future.
Developer: One Hundred Robots
Released: 2011-06-23 00:00:00
Description from the Developer** Apple New & Noteworthy **
** Editor's Choice Award ** - Warren Buckleitner, Children's Technology Review
"The app is visually stunning." - PadGadget
"...the combination of story, illustrations and quirky interactions creates a completely winning app!" - The iPhone Mom
"a charming app...the watercolour illustrations are full of life and Hildegard is an endearing character..." - Miranda West, The Literary Platform
Enter the world of Hildegard Rhineheffer, a lovable hippo who dreams of being an opera star. She suddenly has her big break when Frau Hoopenholler the lead in the opera is ill. Hildegard is flabbergasted by her stroke of luck – there is so much to do to prepare! But then, just as suddenly as the opportunity arises, she loses her voice. What is an aspiring star to do?
Help Hildegard overcome her stage fright and become the diva she deserves to be. You can feed her a feast, help her try on silly hats, or pop the bubbles in her bath.
Illustrated in watercolor, with twenty-eight interactive, surprise-packed pages, this is an unforgettable story of a singer on the brink of stardom. The extras include Hildegard’s Famous Roles – hilarious spoofs of Madame Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel and other opera classics. There is also a matching game of details from the illustrations.
Previous titles from One Hundred Robots have been listed in NYTimes.com Gadgetwise, iPhone4kids, and The Literary Platform as among the best children's book apps.
**Requires iOS 4.0 or later.**
FEATURES OF HILDEGARD SINGS:
• 28 interactive pages
• Professionally narrated by Tracie Higgins and Craig Schumacher
• High quality sound effects and music throughout
• Extras include Hildegard's Famous Roles – spoofs on famous operas - and a matching game
• Read to me or read to myself options
• Story and humorous watercolor illustrations by Thomas Wharton with additional writing by Bobby Young
• Additional extras to come include an opera glossary
• Navigation map
Hildegard Sings is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad at the iTunes App Store
Target audience: Age 3 and up.
**Limited time introductory price: iPad $1.99/iPhone $0.99**
ABOUT ONE HUNDRED ROBOTS:
One Hundred Robots was born out of our passion for the ways that devices such as iPad can share incredible stories and give families more quality time together.
We are a group of 20 creative professionals who have worked together for the better part of the past 20 years. Based on Spring Street in New York City, our expertise lies in creating stories and refining them so that they are easily accessible, rich in content, and full of educational value. We do this with words, images, and interactive design.
The mission of One Hundred Robots is to create fun storytelling experiences that inspire children to use their imagination.