Bubble Tubbie was created to be "a sensory romp through a child's imagination as they experience the most cherished of childhood rituals; The Bubble Bath." And without question, this is one very engaging read, featuring over a dozen pages of touchable, tappable exploration for little fingers. Created for children under six, this app is a great companion to Bubble Tubbie's other products, which are quite a bit more submersible. The print title is available in hardcover with stickers that can be used in the bath or as a waterproof (laminated) book to actually read in the tub. Bubble Tubbie also has a line of fun-looking bath toys.
The story itself is more of a long, meandering poem told in well-crafted rhyming couplets. Along the top of each page are the words "bloop, giggle, bubble, splash and pop" with a voice-over from a lovely child narrator. Small, pulsating bubbles on the page invite kids to tap in an intuitive way, leading to a series of special effects that bring the graphics to life. This title is not really 'animated' but instead features cut-outs of objects and environments, many from photographs of the natural world. When the bubble next to each of these images is tapped, the pictures move (in circles, from side-to-side or pulsating); a second tap stops the motion. This moving collage is visually stunning, although potentially overstimulating (particularly at bedtime), especially when all the items are in motion at once.
As a digital book, this title is rather unusual. The interactive elements are so fun and plentiful that the target audience may be distracted from the text. If this was a traditional ebook in app form, meant primarily for reading, I would rate the app much lower overall, because it is very easy for the narration and touchable effects to interrupt each other in a cacophony of sound. But this book app is as much for playtime as for reading. A nice update could either pause the narration when playing sound effects or silence interactive touch points until the narration is finished.
Educational enhancements include highlighting using a line that moves under the words as they are spoken (as opposed to text that lights up). This book also includes a lot of 'big' words that young children might not be familiar with (beckon, luscious, ascend) so a bar along the side of each page has a couple words with nice definitions. The sidebars do give the page a very 'busy' look, but they are a great addition. The app also has nice audio enhancements, including classical piano music in the background.
Unfortunately there is no page guide or even a home icon, although at the end there is a 'Play Again' button. It would be nice to have a way to navigate the book added in a future update. This final page also contains a lot of links that leave the app, something inappropriate in an app aimed at children this young. With a few simple taps, toddlers can easily end up on Facebook, Twitter or the web unless parents restrict the device in the settings menu.
Overall, This is an exceptional little app for playtime exploration, but beware, this version is not waterproof! Seriously, though, this is a true transmedia title, offering something different from the print version(s) and taking advantage of the possibilities with different formats.
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.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The content of the rating/review is the same, but timing of publication has been prioritized.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Christine Mangnall-Schwarz/Brian Swanson
Epiphany Schwarz LLC
8 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 2 - 5
The Bubble Tubbie Book App is based on the new children's picture book of the same name, including original poetry, art and photography by Epiphany Schwarz. Bubble Tubbie is a sensory romp through a child's imagination during the most cherished of childhood rituals; The Bubble Bath. [Source: iTunes]