Based on the 1993 print title, this is an exceptional book app. It stands out not only for its digital charms, but for the role the story has played in comforting young children dealing with separation anxiety for two decades. This Oceanhouse Media title tells the tale of young Chester, a raccoon who is feeling nervous about going to school. "Please may I stay with you?" he begs his mother. She tells him about all the wonderful experiences and friendships he will make at school, but also responds to Chester's heartbreaking plea, sharing a 'secret' he can cherish even when he is far away from home.
The story is well crafted and beautifully imagined in illustrated form. A touching hand-drawn heart appears in the center of Chester's hand when his mother kisses it, surrounded by a sea of hearts that is truly precious. The narration is delightful, and highlights word-by-word with all the enhancements OmBooks are famous for, including excellent navigation, easy-to-use settings and educational touches that set the standard for the book app market. There is very little interactivity however and no animation, although this this is a title that would be exceptional with a bit more movement in digital.
The National Education Association named The Kissing Hand one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" in 2007 and it was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. When researching the print title, I was also touched by the background about how the author and illustrator, Audrey Penn, came up with the story idea:
On a train ride in Wheaton, Maryland, Penn witnessed a ritual in which a mother raccoon placed its nose on a baby raccoon's paw, and then the baby raccoon placed its paw on its own face. The park ranger said that the purpose of the ritual was to transfer scent from the mother to the baby so that the baby could recall the mother's scent by bringing its paw to its face. Penn "started a similar ritual with her daughter — kissing her hand and telling her that whenever she was homesick, she could put her hand to her face." Penn wrote The Kissing Hand based on the raccoons' ritual. Penn read the book at VSA arts, and Jean Kennedy Smith wrote the book's foreword. [Source: Wikipedia]
Overall, this is a must-download title. At the time of this review, this book is still free, but even if it were a paid app, I wouldn't hesitate to give it my highest recommendation. The Kissing Hand is simply an essential book app for any well-rounded library of digital storybook apps.
During the winter holiday break, I downloaded this app and planned to review it right away. I was particularly touched by the gesture of Oceanhouse Media to make the book free in response to the Newtown tragedy. But somehow, like many moms, life got way from me and I didn't even get a chance to read this title thoroughly by myself until after the new year. My little boy, however, read this story himself dozens of times while he was off from school for two weeks.
During this time, he began a ritual of kissing the center of my hand every time we separated. He did it with grandma when she was visiting for Christmas, too. She was perplexed but touched. Then one night, a few days ago, he asked to read The Kissing Hand together, finally, at bedtime. We nuzzled in and when the story got to the point that the the mother raccoon is kissing Chester's hand and then he kisses her hand back in love, my little boy looked up at me and smiled. I took his hand, finally understanding and kissed it. He beamed. ~ Carisa Kluver, Editor
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
4 - 8 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8
Chester is a young raccoon who is nervous about going to school. His mother kisses his palm and tells him that "whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.'" Chester is comforted and goes to school.
The Kissing Hand was first published by the Child Welfare League of America in 1993, it has been used "to reassure children upset by separation anxiety." Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. It has been translated into at least five languages and has been followed by five sequels. [Source: Wikipedia]