Not many books get five star reviews on this site, let alone five stars in four or more of our nine categories, but this standout title from Hocus Books does this and so much more! Featuring a charming story alongside beautifully crafted animation and unique interactive elements, Mr. Sandman is our favorite book app (so far) for 2013.
The story begins with a young boy and his mother at bedtime. The child says he is afraid of the dark. "Don't worry my darling, I will wind up your music box and leave your light on. The Sandman will be here soon." Tap the music box to hear a 'winding' sound effect and then a lovely tune that launches a touching tale that is told as much in text as in silhouette, sound and a surprisingly innovative approach to interactivity.
At times this interactivity is difficult to figure out, and the audio 'hints' are not always very helpful. Not all apps have this type of 'help' for users, but when provided, an app this polished deserves to have every element fine-tuned. The one that caught my attention most, suggests you 'bend' the iPad (when I'm pretty sure they meant 'tilt'); sometimes a thesaurus for another language is simply not enough. These hints, provided with a thick accent in English, are something that I hope will be an easy fix for a future update.
Otherwise, this is an exceptionally well-developed app. It is unique and innovative in the way it develops what is essentially a classic story arc. The digital enhancements are truly original though, allowing the reader to interact with the narrative on nearly every page in different ways that take storytelling to a whole new level. The illustrations, melodious narration (albeit w/out highlighting) and nicely tailored digital effects make this a rare interactive title that will win over young & old alike at bedtime. My highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Manon Aidan and Yanick Gourville/Cyril Jedor
20 - 25 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 4 - 9 +
English • French •
Mr. Sandman is an original dreamlike and tactile story where Chinese shadows merges with intelligent interactivity and an amazing sound design. After the sandman appears, a little boy falls asleep and slowly takes off to dreamland, where he befriends an owl. The owl then take him in a night adventure full of wonders and hospitality… This tale of a new kind is for 3-7 years and address the "fear of the dark," a milestone in the development of young children.