This incredibly unique app book is one of many that focuses on nursery rhymes. The team that developed this book has really gone the extra mile, though, making Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime one of the most interactive and 'touchable' apps I've ever reviewed. It's nearly impossible to keep your hands off this app, even for adults. Now with added narration & two more nursery rhymes, this digital storybook is nearly perfect.
The developers, ustwo & Atomic Antelope, have been very responsive to customer requests and suggestions and have several updates planned. They seem to have a great team that creates not only beautiful production values but also implements changes more quickly than most developers I've encountered - a great sign for readers. I am particularly impressed that they have added Baa Baa Black Sheep & Grand Old Duke to their existing app rather than try to find a way to charge their early fans more for this new content - they are a class act!
The book now contains eight nursery rhymes. They were created by hand with real paper and glue before being transformed in this digital edition. The illustrations are based on the 19th century 'Mother Goose' illustrations of William Wallace Denslow, who was most famous for his illustrations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The graphic interface is done with exceptionally intuitive physics and solidly built for such an interactive app. Page turn is by arrows and there is also a page guide in the new update.
Each page has the most engaging ways to move the characters and other elements of each rhyme around the page. The little piggies can be slid toward their destinations, except for the one who had none and instead cries as you slide him to a spot with nothing at all. There is even a 'carving knife' that can be brought down to chop off the tails of the three blind mice in a way that is more satisfying than gruesome. This book is short but so engaging and unique that I'd even recommend it to adults who just want to 'show off their iPad'. [Hint: Since I wrote the original review I've discovered you can 'reattach' the tails, too - try reattaching all three to one mouse.]
The most intriguing and unique feature of this app involves "StoryTime" which is a feature that uses the Game Center app that comes with the iPad & iPhone (needs wifi to work properly). I tried this feature out with my mom, so grandma could read the story to my son. This took a bit of setup, requiring both my mom & I to establish game center accounts (since neither of us had used gamecenter before) and 'invite' each other to play, before we could try out the remote narration.
The experience of StoryTime was not without frustration, but worth the challenge. Having grandma narrate my son's current favorite book was a treat that made the technical difficulties less frustrating after the first successful connection. A microphone with headset is also recommended for iPad users, since it is difficult for the other users to hear you unless you speak right into the iPad mic. If you have any difficulties getting game center to connect, it can also be useful to try it at different times of day, since it does have times when it is being used more heavily.
One way to think about the effort to use this feature, is that it is an investment that will allow you to utilize StoryTime in not just this book, but also with other apps that allow remote narration. I predict that there will be many StoryTime titles in the near future and am glad Grandma & I took the time to become more technically savvy. The look on my son's face while my mom sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" was priceless.
Overall, even without StoryTime, this book app is really remarkable. The intuitive interface and unique presentation make it stand out from the many other nursery rhyme apps. As a digital book, it has the classic look and feel of an old-fashioned Mother Goose storybook with interactions that make children and the young at heart say, "Wow!"
[Updated. Original Review Published 4/1/2011 for version 1.0.1]
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
ustwo, Atomic Antelope
8 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 2 - 10
Contains the traditional versions of the following nursery rhymes: Jack & Jill, This Little Piggy (went to market), Three Blind Mice, Hey Diddle Diddle (The Cow Jumped Over the Moon), Humpty Dumpty, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Grand Old Duke, Baa Baa Black Sheep [More to be added in future updates.]