'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 4 February 2012

ebook Review: Apps and Books for Toddlers by Night & Day Studios

Night and Day Studios have been quite prolific of late, adding consistently to their impressive repertoire of classic storybook apps. Following are the best of the best – perfect for beginner iPad users – yes under-fives, I’m talking to you (and maybe a few adults, too!). Have fun!

Richard Scarry’s Busytown, A$2.99 on iTunes

Scarry’s iconic Busytown is such a fabulously vibrant place to visit. All his classic animal characters are here – cats, pigs, foxes and bunnies – and kids get to choose their preferred animal, name them from a series of options, then dress them from a selection of cool outfits.

Then it’s into the action. With a series of scenes to choose from, including rooms of the house, the firehouse and grocery store, kids are instructed to find certain objects in a very busy scene (of increasing difficulty). As the child taps on each object, its word appears and is sounded out until the right object is tapped.

There is no other interactivity, which may be frustrating for kids keen for more action, hence the beginner appropriateness. It has gorgeous images and is great for word extension, and you’ll also find Goldbug on every page, if you look closely.

Peekaboo Barn, A$1.99 on iTunes

A whimsical barn sits in the middle of a snowy field. Suddenly, it starts thumping and making an animal noise. Can your tot guess what might be inside? Tap the barn and the doors open to reveal the animal, then see and hear the word, read aloud by a series of the most adorable tots.

The animals keep on coming, as your child works through a menangerie of animals – until they all head off to sleep. There are no other interactive elements but the simplicity is enough for beginners and the graphics and audio are gorgeous.

I also love the capability for recording your own animal words, either in different languages, or with your own voice or child’s voice.

Go Away, Big Monster! by Ed Emberley, A$2.99 on iTunes

This very simple ebook will delight little ones. A pair of big googly monster eyes appear on a black-as-night background, inviting kids to tap and boggle them with scrumptious sound effects.

Then a long, bluish, greenish nose appears, then two green ears, then a big mouth with sharp teeth – all of which can also be tapped and boinged and squiggled.

BUT – just as the monster appears, kids also have the power to make him disappear – piece by piece by piece, with brightly coloured, changing backgrounds. Perfect for kids who may have ‘night issues’, the power is totally with the reader.

No other interactive options available.

Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, A$2.99 on iTunes

Our favourite (adults and kids alike) caterpillar is back with this super cute and very fun app designed to help kids with counting. Aimed at ages 1 – 4, there are five levels, beginning with level one – an invitation to gobble through one item of food, just as the hungry caterpillar does so well.

In Level 2, kids must choose to eat only the food instructed by the caterpillar, and by Level 5, kids must tap on the requested food all within one minute. Charming music and simple graphics make for a visually-pleasing app, and large, well-laid out images make for easy navigation.