The Living Books series debuted in the early 1990s, featuring just under 20 titles released on CD-ROM as interactive, animated children's digital storybooks. Before the book app, this series of multimedia picture books was one of the only options for families looking for immersive digital storytelling experiences for their children. I can remember looking for used copies at garage sales, to share with my child in the mid-2000's. It is a series that was both prescient and ground-breaking at the time.
For this reason alone, I really wanted to *love* Wanderful storybooks on the iPad, but in the time that has passed since they were created, a chasm has developed between what we expect for graphic assets and what was acceptable two decades ago. The images are pixelated and have an 'old-school' feel that reminds me precisely of the 1990s computer interface they were based on. The interactions also feel as if they are timed for a mouse-click pace that doesn't quite match the instant, intuitive and immersive effects most users now expect with touch screens.
However, the story itself is tailored beautifully for a digital audience, with polished enhancements that children will love even 20 years after they were first engineered for the screen. Harry and the Haunted House is particularly enchanting, taking young readers through an engaging plot perfectly adapted to be a little scary but mostly fun. The digital graphics may feel 'retro' but so does the emphasis on quality storytelling. So download a copy today, for the joy of a child and the chance to see the history behind today's "new media".
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.
15 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 9
English • Spanish •
"Harry and the Haunted House is a twelve page interactive storybook that blends a well-told story written by Mark Schlichting with thoughtful animation by developer Wanderful. The app offers Read to Me or Let Me Play modes. The former is especially delightful. Animations play automatically, which encourages children to listen up, watch, and take a break from tapping their screen. The story's words are highlighted as expressive voice actors read them so that early readers can follow along.
Though in a sense a ghost story, Harry and the Haunted House will inspire more giggles than scares. After Harry hits his baseball a little too far, he and his friends decide to look for it in the abandoned house where it lands. Children will enjoy seeing how Harry and his friends' imaginations create spooky situations. They see ghosts that turn out to be their own reflection, for example, and hear strange noises that are actually Harry's dog playing with the found ball. In the end, children learn that scary things (like old houses, dark closets, or the space under a bed) are not so terrible once one learns more about them."
- Parents' Choice ©2013 Parents' Choice
Have you ever wished you could play inside a story and really interact with all the characters and words? Now you can! Harry and the Haunted House is an imaginative, interactive and slightly spooky reading experience with fully animated content loved by children, parents and teachers alike.
Wanderful brings every page of this Mark Schlichting story to life. Read and play along with Harry and his friends as they retrieve their baseball lost in the “haunted” house across the field. “W-W-What’s that noise?” “We froze in our steps…”
Source: iTunes Description