Oh, What a Tangle! is a new interactive e-book from UK developer Digital Leaf and writer Anita Pouroulis. It's the story of Kiki, who has hair that flows "like a waterfall of chocolate milk" – until she develops a small tangle. That small tangle grows until Kiki's hair quite literally takes on a life of its own.
The illustrations by Monika Filipina Trzpil are beautifully imaginative – muted colors and quirky lines make for great facial expressions, and although I won't give away the solution to Kiki's tangle, I can tell you that Trzpil's imagining of an angry mom is inspired.
The interactions are pretty muted, too, which I prefer – my daughter stayed interested in the story instead of madly tapping the screen looking for bells and whistles. The music, like the illustrations, is soft and rather soothing – my daughter spent quite some time exploring this app, and I found it created a nice soundtrack while I sorted laundry.
If you're like me and you think a British accent classes up pretty much anything, you'll enjoy the narration, which can be heard in a woman's voice, a girl's voice, or not at all. My daughter, who isn't quite reading on her own yet, likes the idea of the iPad "reading her a story." Older kids might prefer to turn off the voice and read at their own pace.
My daughter managed to find the twenty hidden hairbrushes throughout the story, which allowed her to unlock a bonus game, which turned out to be a fairly ho-hum jigsaw puzzle of an illustration from the story. The app can be reset so that little readers can find the hairbrushes all over again, or so new readers can enjoy the game. Digital Leaf's last e-book featured this same bonus game – I hope they'll consider moving on to something new in their next outing.
Some technical issues I'd like to see fixed in order to make this a truly top-notch app:
One last thing: I'm new to Smart Apps for Kids, and you don't know me yet, so I'm reluctant to reveal my inner nerd this early in our relationship. But you might as well know this about me now: I am a Grammar Nazi. So even though I like this app, and I like that my daughter has been through the story several times now without becoming bored, I have a difficult time letting her play with it. Why? Well, there is a grammatical error on the screen that unlocks the bonus game. Yes, I know my daughter can't really read yet. That's not the point. The point is that "Your a natural" is not something you want in your product if you want it to be taken seriously. The rest of the app is really good, so I hope they fix this one mistake so as not to lose the entire nerd population in one fell swoop or get a bunch of angry one star iTunes ratings.
Even with the technical glitches, this e-book is a great addition to your child's library, and may even teach a lesson or two about the importance of things like brushing your hair. My daughter gives it two thumbs up, and I give it four stars.
This guest review was originally published by SmartAppsforKids.com on November 29, 2012.
The author of this review, Emilie Davis is a mom, writer, and expert untangler of Barbie hair. She and her inner nerd are pleased to make your acquaintance. 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.
Anita Pouroulis/Monika filipina Trzpil
Digital Leaf Ltd.
8 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8