Bottom Line: a bedtime story for parents of young children that preserves the loving message of the original board book and brings some creative extras to the digital update.
With Goodnight Moon, the most read bedtime board book of all time now an app, it stands to reason Cookie Bear Press would jump on the bandwagon as well with their own 1999 classic I Love You All the Time. My twins were born in 2002 and I got a copy of this book with the bright red cover and big heart as a shower gift. I don't remember much from those intensely sleep deprived years, but I do remember reading this book over and over.
This sugar sweet bedtime affirmation by authors Jessica Elin Hirschman and Jennifer Elin Cole has made the transition from paper to pixels rather well. The simplicity of the original is carried over. This is a bedtime story so everything is low key and quiet. The book only has 7 pages with a few lines of verse on each page. The title is repeated on every page as the whole point is to reassure a child he is loved no matter what.
The illustrations by Bonnie Bright feature lots of bold primary colors and simple patterns. Each page shows a different setting in which the mama or papa bear can express unconditional love to the precious cub. Whether parents are at home, at work or even on a trip, the pictures of the bear family convey the same message of love and devotion.
Animations are purposefully understated. They aren't marked in any way, but can be found through exploration of the pictured objects. Letters on the bedspread are identified when pressed, lights turn on and off and there are lots of sound effects. My favorite is hearing mama bear's conversation on her cell phone. Just enough interactivity is included to keep a toddler's attention without disrupting the bedtime routine. A soundtrack throughout the story also helps set the mood.
The clear, heartfelt narration makes the most of the short verses. There's a nice rhythm to it. Words are highlighted as they are read. I generally don't bother with record myself options found in ebooks, but I was happy to see it in this case. Because this is such a personal story, it makes sense for the child to hear her mother or father's voice. This feature allows the story to be played by a babysitter or other caretaker while mommy is away. My favorite part is the prompt at the end to record your own verse. When I was buried in diapers, and covering the 7 p.m. to 1 a.m feeding shift, I used to murmur silly verses like, "I love you when you vomit and when you make a poop."
Several extras and the settings menu are accessible from a pop up tray at the bottom of the screen. There's a page by page index and an option to personalize the last page with a child's name. Both the narration and music can be turned off. Storybook mode keeps the animations from activating until after the text is read on each page. This setting should be standard in all books marketed to pre-readers. The most unusual feature is hearing the words of the book in a song. The recording has a bit too much of a folk or country twang for my taste, but it's among the most original additions to book apps I've seen and likely to be a big hit with toddlers. The song is also available as a separate iTunes download. It's sung by Rosemary Watson.
The app, like the board book, makes a special gift for a new mother although I've yet to come up with a good way to give a digital present. It also would be wonderful for a military family facing a deployment. And if it's a bit too syrupy for the reality of your family, record your own verses like I did.
Note to readers: This rating was expedited by the developer for a fee. The content of the rating/review is the same, but timing of publication has been prioritized.
This guest review was originally published by SmartAppsforKids.com on November 28th 2012.
The author of this review, Jill Goodman, sings a new tune these days such as, "I love you when you run down the battery on my iPad and leave it covered in sticky fingerprints." SmartAppsforKids is one of the top review sites for kids educational apps, games and books. They strive for meticulousness and honesty in their reviews, both positive and negative. Their goal is to be the most complete source for parents and educators looking for reliable info on an app before making a purchase.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.