This absolutely adorable storybook app from the Polk Street Press, creators of Goodnight Safari & The 12 Days of Christmas was just released last week. It features an original story from New York Times bestselling children's book author Deborah Underwood and a whole host of interactive in-story and extra activities. Pitch-perfect enhancements and a lot of thoughtful care in development make this a seamless storytelling experience your kids will return to over and over. And there's even a way to find out just how often and how much kids are reading with an email option to get parent reports.
Spatter & Spark is definitely a 5-Star app in more than one way, especially for really relevant interactivity that reinforces and moves along the story and dialogue. Polished animation will also surprise and delight young readers. Nice educational features like highlighting as the story is read and having all the dialogue present in the text make this an easy choice for parents, too. The story is well-crafted and includes ways the child can personalize the bookplate and even color the 'bouncing shoes' that Spatter & Spark invent. The shoes then appear in all the story pages with the child's design.
The navigation is a little difficult, despite the presence of a page guide, because each of the ten pages listed is actually a long scene with many 'pages' of text; returning to a page can sometimes require repeating several scenes to get back to where you left off. Also, while this app will run on an iPad 2 (nothing lower), I switched to my iPad 3 for testing after noticing slow loading between pages. Even on the iPad 3 & iPad Mini, the games and some interactive elements had less than ideal responsiveness. This may have something to do with the enormous size of this app, coming in over 400 MB. I would also recommend going into the parent section and using the settings to turn off the background piano tune, which is on an annoyingly short loop.
Extras include a simple but nicely made painting page, with options to color images of the two main characters or a blank page. There are also several educational games that involve counting bugs and identifying objects and animals - perfect for the toddler & preschool set. Finally there is a sticker page that must be gradually unlocked as the child completes the other games. Overall this is a stellar new app and a great treat for kids ... it will keep them busy for a good 30 minutes easily if they are reading the story and playing with all the extras. It's a bit too busy for bedtime, but perfect for any daytime setting. Suitable for ages 2 and up.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Deborah Underwood/Luciana Navarro Powell
Polk Street Press LLC
12 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 2 - 5
Starring Spark an inventor fox and her friend Spatter an artistic porcupine, Spatter & Spark invites children to invent, learn, and create. [Source: iTunes]