This version of Aesop's The Ant & the Grasshopper is one of many digital books featuring Aesop's fables to debut on the iPad. There is a WIDE variation in the quality of digital book apps based on public domain stories like Aesop & Grimm Brother's tales. Many are not even narrated by native speakers or have syntax, grammar or other linguistic errors in the text of the stories.
This tale, however, is not only free (it's the first release in a series called Aesop's Thinking that retails currently for $4.99), but is also an excellent remake of the classic story. The wording is odd a couple times (the grasshopper will 'drop tears' instead of 'cry' if he doesn't prepare for winter, for instance), but otherwise the story is fine.
What stands out about this book, though, is the delightful classical music that the grasshopper plays on his fiddle, the half dozen animated scenes that last nearly a minute a piece and the overall polished feel of the whole book. I was particularly enchanted by the ladybug backup dancers for the grasshopper's musical scenes. It's almost a video-book hybrid.
While this book is interactive, it's not in a way that necessarily enhances the reading experience, although it is fun. Almost every page has a different bug or flower appear and move around the screen anytime the reader taps anywhere on the page, so dozens of little bugs can be crawling about the scene if you tap enough times in a row. It is also filled with animated scenes that play long enough to qualify this as multi-media.
The two small activities bundled into the book are accessible from the front page, not embedded in the story. Although the activities are not amazing by themselves, they are educational. I used one of them (a simple puzzle), to reinforce a lesson I was doing at home with my preschooler about the seasons.
Options are relatively limited on this book, with only one setting, so this isn't the best book for bedtime if you child is easily overstimulated. A great choice for daytime reads, this is a simple retelling of Aesop in a well made modern book.
My only warning is if you have limited space on your iPad, this may not be the best book to keep installed if you aren't reading it often. It's nearly 200 MB, which is pretty big for less than 10 minutes of edutainment. Even free apps sometimes have a cost.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Oddeye Co., Ltd.
6 - 10 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8
The story itself is a pretty simple rendition of the classic story of the Ant & the Grasshopper. Basically the ants prepare for hard times (winter) and the grasshopper doesn't. In this version the grasshopper in summer says, “let's party” and chides the ants for working so hard. He plays music all day while the ants work hard storing food for winter. The grasshopper says, “rest for awhile” to which the ants reply, “you should store food”. Then winter comes and grasshopper begs the ants for “crumbs & warmth” while in a chilly scene with only a tattered coat. The ants refuse to help & the story ends. It's not an amazing retelling, but simple. Like many Aesop's fables, the ending feels a bit abrupt, but that often leaves time to discuss the moral of the story with your child. The moral is about preparing for hard times, but does not show any compassion on the part of the ants even as grasshopper begs for help once winter arrives. By modern children's storytelling standards, this message may seem harsh, but it's certainly would be natural consequences for Mr. Grasshopper!