Pat the Bunny has been a classic children's book for over 70 years. The original print version, by Dorothy Kunhardt, works its magic with textures to touch and feel, as well as interactive elements. In digital form it lacks only the tactile experience - all the other magic is there - only amplified. There are many more elements to play with, like bubbles from the bath to pop, flowers to watch grow after watering and musical pots & pans.
The book starts with the familiar "peek-a-boo with Paul", although instead of lifting a fabric swatch over the boy's face you just tap the cloth and the fabric flies up, accompanied by cute giggling noises, a surprised gasp or even Paul sticking out his tongue. The interactive elements vary a little, giving the book an added element of surprise, extending play and keeping the book fresh with re-reading. Audio prompts also say, "Where is Paul?" or "Can you find Paul?" if the screen isn't touched right away.
The page with Judy looking in a mirror was always one of my favorite's in the print book. On the iPad 2 or iPhone 4 this page uses the front facing camera so looking into the 'mirror' is actually a live picture of the reader. On devices like the iPad 1 (or older iPhone/iPod touch devices) this page is simply replaced with a different page - the one where the child is asked to "help daddy shave". The page about shaving is absent in the version of the app on devices with a front facing camera.
Overall, the book is very solidly made, an important factor in an app made for the youngest children. It has a page guide (in the form of a map), easy page turn with arrows, audio suggestions to guide the reader and ample settings, including recordable narration. The narration can be turned off, although there is no way to turn off the audio prompts without muting the device.
The book is nicely animated with cut-out style illustrations from the original print title. There is also cheerful narration & background music that can easily be turned off. The book is a bit too interactive for most bedtime reading, although it does end with tucking the kids into bed. However the book restarts automatically, which can be an issue when setting limits for night-time reading with kids.
There is also one small extra - a 'paint' feature. This is not coloring in the usual sense with a palate to choose from. Instead the child just rubs their finger over black & white drawings from the book to make the colors magically appear. This also sends hundreds of little diamonds tinkling across the screen. If you pause for a moment and then start 'coloring' again, the book's audio says, "Great Painting!"
This is an excellent children's book app, but I wouldn't suggest you give up the print version of Pat the Bunny. Now you just need to get them both (if you have an iAnything). While there is no substitute for the tactile experiences that the print book provides, the digital version of Pat the Bunny offers so many new things that I'd recommend it to anyone with young children. It is especially good as a 'busy book' for toddlers, with lots of re-play value. Kunhardt's classic can now be a digital childhood favorite, too.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Random House LLC
8 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 1 - 6 +
In Pat the Bunny, the child is invited to play peek-a-book with Paul, play with ducks in the pond, water the flowers in the garden, break a pinata, look in a mirror, help Judy put on her shoes, play with a nesting doll, go sledding, catch butterflies, pop bubbles from a bath, make music with pots & pans in the kitchen, find the bunny hiding and finally to tuck Paul & Judy into bed. Then they all wave goodbye.