interactive e-booksfor children
|k i r k u s r e v i e w s . c o m|
i n t e r a c t i v e e - b o o k s
|1 5 a p r i l 2 0 1 1|
6 2 1
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Andersen, Hans ChristianIllustrator: Zwerger, LisbethTranslator: Bell, Anthea
Developer: Auryn Inc.$2.99
February 25, 2011
Andersen’s classic text is paired to Zwerg-er’s elegant, subdued illustrations and ani-mated with graceful restraint.
At ﬁ rst glance, there doesn’t seem tobe much going on. A page of text appears, with a ﬁ sh bobbingas if in a slight current at the bottom of the page. It looks asthough it has been submerged, light shining through movingwater between the iPad surface and the text. When readersadvance to the next page, the ﬁ sh swims across into an illus-tration as the narration continues. The background soundsare the ceaseless rushing of the ocean depths. Children whotouch the screen to ﬁ nd an animation will discover that they can make ripples and splashing sounds while guiding a schoolof minnows about. This is exactly the right choice for thisstory. Many pages have several paragraphs (read aloud in agentle, woman’s voice), and the interaction engages readerstactilely, helping them to focus. As the action moves to theocean’s surface, the undersea gurgling is replaced by the washof ripples, the soughing of the wind and creaking of ships. Thisbeing the original story, there is no happy ending: The littlemermaid becomes a “daughter of the air,” hoping to eventually win an immortal soul.Children accustomed to Disney blandness will ﬁ nd thisquiet, subtle app a welcome introduction to a more sophisti-cated aesthetic.
(iPad storybook app.
THE GOING TOBED BOOK
Boynton, SandraIllustrator: Boynton, SandraNarrator: Kramer, Billy J.
Developer: Loud Crow Interactive$2.99
Version: 1.0March 7, 2011
Preserving the look of the classic board book—even to the trimsize and rounded corners—this makeover folds new into old insuch inventive ways that it may take more than a few passes todiscover all the interactive features.
Aboard a ship that rocks in response to a tilt of the tablet a setof animal passengers bounce belowdecks. First they take a bathfeaturing user-created bubbles, and then they brush their teethusing water so hot that the whole screen hazes up with wipe-able“steam.” Pajama-clad, all then wobble—or, tweaked by a ﬁ nger,rocket—back outside for a bit of exercise before bed. (Readerscontrol this part by twirling the moon.) In the ﬁ nest animationof all, every touch of the night sky in the ﬁ nal scene brings a twin-kling star into temporary being. Along with making small move-ments that resemble paper-engineered popup effects, Boynton’swide-eyed passengers also twitch or squeak (or both) whentapped. And though they don’t seem particularly sleepy or con-ducive to heavy lids, an optional reading by British singer Billy J. Kramer (whose well-traveled voice also pronounces each wordindividually at a touch), backed by soothing piano music, suppliesan effectively soporiﬁ c audio. “The day is done. / They say goodnight, / and somebody / turns off the light.”This is as beautiful as the developer’s earlier PopOut! PeterRabbit while styling itself perfectly to Boynton’s whimsy.
(iPad board-book app.
VIOLET AND THEMYSTERY NEXT DOOR
Keeme, AllisonIllustrator: Keeme, Allison
Developer: Black Dog Books$3.99
Version: 1.0February 21, 2011Series: Violet, Vol. 3
A relatively small number of animations and interactive effects embellish an engaging, some-times laugh-out-loud detective story.
This third case for young sleuth Violet, aka “Phantom