5-Star Re-Review [Originally published January 13, 2011] The Strange & Wonderful World of Ants is one of very few titles given 5 stars on this site. And that was before this substantial update. The book is now truly phenomenal for an educational ebook. It is, in my opinion, one of the best examples for developers who would like to create innovative non-fiction ebook apps.
This update includes narration for the easiest reading level, making this a title that is versatile enough for even young pre-readers while still being engaging for older readers and even adults. Unless you are an entomologist, you will likely learn something new about ants while reading this book. The addition of a glossary, questions for discussion and new content far exceeded my expectations, which tend to be high.
The update also includes music and improvements to the look and feel of the app. E.O. the Ant even comes to anyplace you tap your finger. Her helpful information also now adjusts with the reading level, which made this book more enjoyable to share with my pre-schooler.
But the target audience, kids 7-12, will find even more educational resources, making this book a great learning tool. Any child interested in insects or working on a report about ants will find the links and glossary especially useful. Every page is filled with interesting facts about ants, and it is done in a way that is so enchanting that I hope books like this about other topics will someday fill the app store.
[From the original review:]
When I first reviewed this book, upon opening the app, I immediately thought, "Wow!"
I have had an iPad since April & I download a lot of kid's books. I used to feel a little thrill when I opened some of the first interactive books to hit the market, but it's been a long time since something took my breath away. My husband Marc is a programmer, so I immediately brought him the book and asked, "How did they DO this?"
We contacted the developer, Amos Latteier, to find out about the programming that went into this book. He used a unique approach to solve some of the challenges inherent in creating an interactive book app. This included using an obscure interpretted computer language called "Lua". The illustrations are done using overlaid pdfs. "It's a simple, but ingenious approach to programming a book app", according to Digital Storytime's resident technical advisor.
This is the only book I have ever seen with an Adjustable Reading Level. You can set the book to beginner, intermediate or advanced. The first page, if set to beginner, says "An ant". If set to intermediate, "Behold an ANT!" appears. For advanced, it says, "Behold an ANT! A heroic representative of the family Formicidae." Here's a book that could actually grow with your child as they move up reading levels. The illustrations are also phenomenal, with several layers of the image appearing and fading out for a really amazing effect. It's feels like a fine art book in some ways, with the illustrator's beautiful line drawings of ants, enlarged to show every little hair.
Then, all of a sudden, a tiny little ant crawls across the screen. It is life size and so realistic looking that for a second I thought a real bug had landed on my screen. She moves just like a real ant, almost as if she's looking for a way out of the iPad. Tap on her and a small text window pop's up with additional information about ants. Initally, the ant even 'introduces' herself by saying, "Hello, I'm E.O. the ant. My nest suggested that I be the ant ambassador to you humans in the hope that you'll understand us better." The interactivity is fun, but also well integrated into the educational goals of the book.
[End of original review.]
This is an outstanding book that will really engage your child while they learn. It is beautiful, well-made and now nicely narrated with music. It has plentiful settings that are simple to navigate, smooth page turning and an easy to read font. It is now also packed with additional educational content and resources for further study. It gets my highest recommendation.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Amos Latteier/Melinda Matson
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 12 +
E.O. the ant greets the reader on the first page and when tapped, she introduces herself as the reader's 'ambassador' to the ant world. Page after page, E.O. appears crawling all over the detailed illustrations. Topics within the book cover everything from how ants' milk aphids and farm fungi, to food storage and how they build their nests. This is an extremely detailed and well researched book about a tiny insect. Features 3 adjustable reading levels.