Based on the 2001 print title, this fascinating app brings Graeme Base's tale about animals gathering at a waterhole to life. Filled with games and an interactive storybook, this app is sure to please young and old alike. It isn't quite the same as the art-book style print title, but children will pour over this digital version to find the hidden creatures in this stellar counting book all the same.
The images are gorgeous in this app, however I would love to see the initial page with text much larger and highlighting as it is read. It is tiny and the image doesn't seem to really take advantage of the screen size. A 'loading screen' also disrupts things periodically. A page guide and settings to turn off the music throughout the app would be nice (it is a lovely tune but on a loop that can become annoying), but existing navigation options are adequate to enjoy all the app's features.
The games are fun, but somewhat difficult to figure out, especially the 'hidden animal' game ... if you like hidden object games this one is challenging. The 'leap frog' game is also very challenging, based on a brain teaser. For a solution, you can see http://www.thinkingapplied.com/frog_folder/frog.htm. The only other game included, 'Animatch' is a basic matching game with a few fun twists. A question mark appears in the corner of each page with instructions, which is a nice addition.
Overall, this is a well developed app with an interactive version of the Graeme Base classic. Fans of the print title will enjoy this interactive edition in digital, although there is still no substitute for the print title with art quality images. Recommended.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
15 - 45 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 9
Readers will find more to see the longer they linger over the enticing pages of Base's (Animalia) latest innovative effort. Successive spreads introduce a growing number of animals (from one rhino to 10 kangaroos) at a water hole which, as viewed through die-cut ovals of progressively decreasing size, becomes smaller with each turn of the page.
Though the minimal, somewhat quirky text makes no reference to the locale depicted in each mixed-media painting, images in the background of the various landscapes help pinpoint the country or continent in focus (e.g., Mount Rushmore is visible through the trees that flank five North American moose lapping up water and the Great Wall of China looms behind seven thirsty pandas).
Borders at the top and bottom of each spread feature silhouettes of 10 animals indigenous to the spotlighted locale. In the accompanying illustration, Base cleverly conceals renderings of these creatures, subtly working them into the vegetation and sometimes into the remarkably lifelike images of the featured animals themselves.
Keeping these creatures company and adding a dose of whimsy to the visuals is a cast of diminutive frogs, bedecked in pearls, knit caps and shirts. Though the animals disappear when the water hole dries up, rain eventually falls and the earth springs back to life. Base's final panorama reveals all the species gathered peacefully at one much larger water hole, bringing his story to a hopeful close.
[From Publishers Weekly, 2001, description of print title]
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