An adorable black cat named Bean joins the app world after being introduced to toddlers in print in 1998. This is a precious series about a cat and "his" baby. We see Bean's many 'possessions' ... since anyone with a cat knows they 'own' everything in their environment. But in addition to Bean's ball and his window, there is a baby introduced ... so of course this will be Bean's baby too. Cat and baby lovers will find this equally satisfying, as the timeless love affair begins between a real baby and the 'baby' of the household. Families will enjoy this book as they identify with the tension between a beloved pet and a new bundle of joy.
Author Sarah Hines Stephens shares this well-crafted story for the very youngest readers, with illustrations by Anna Grossnickle Hines. Anna's illustrations can also be seen in another sweet book app, Not Without Bear. In print, this title was well-loved. It is pitch perfect for little fingers and ears, with a slow paced and simple story that begins with a single word, "Bean", accompanied by an image of a beautiful black cat with green eyes.
This is not a riveting storyline ... more akin to an early reader or board book. Very light animation and sound effects enhance the title in a very minimal way that is especially appropriate for young listeners. Lovely narration is optional, including word-for-word highlighting to enhance early literacy. The animation and interactivity could be more polished, but this title, created with Kwiksher software, is a great example of how to enhance a book for babies.
For audiences ages three and under, titles need to follow the motto of "less is more". Bean's Baby is a title that clearly took this advice to heart. When reading this book app with a young child, parents and caregivers can expect the minimal use of 'bells and whistles' to help kids focus on the main elements of the simple story. Books like this, in digital or print, are the backbone of building early literacy and for that reason alone, I highly recommend this title.
The temptation among many developers of children's stories in the app world is to add everything possible, but in the end it can overwhelm and over-stimulate young readers. The Bean's Baby series shows off a style that is spot on for developmentally appropriate reading in app form. This book is available (at time of review) for free, with additional titles available for $1.99, making this a very reasonably priced series to add to any digital library for babies & toddlers. I rarely recommend an app for children under two, but this one is well adapted to the developmental needs of even the youngest listeners.
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.
Sarah Hines-Stephens and Anna Grossnickle Hines
3 - 5 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 2 - 6
Bean has her window for sitting, her ball for chasing, her whole world just as she likes it. Then in comes Baby. The story of how the two get acquainted is told in spare one or two word phrases which, in “read to me” mode, highlight as they are read by the young narrator, helping the child associate the sound of the word with the printed text. Even the youngest will soon be able to “read it myself.” Gentle animations enhance the story and most are repeatable on touch. Set it for auto-play and the toddler can enjoy the story from beginning to end, and then hit the button to read the story “again”… and “again.”
The frisky black cat continues her playful antics in two more apps Bean's Games and Bean's Night. Well loved by toddlers and their parents when published as board books these small adventures are now reborn as apps to delight a new generation. As books Bean (now Bean's Baby) was on the Children's Television Networks Recommended Reading List for 0-3, Bean's Games was an ALA Notable Book, and all three were Book-of-the-Month-Club featured selections.
Sarah Hines-Stephens wrote the books to welcome her first nephew and has since gone on to publish many titles for children. Anna Grossnickle Hines, author and illustrator of numerous books already, was thrilled to join forces with her daughter and create the colored pencil illustrations for this trio of books to honor her first grandson. Anna scanned the original drawings, digitally separated, and enhanced them for the apps. Grandpa, Gary Hines, recorded granddaughter Violet Grace Stephens as the narrator, and did all the sound work as well as programming in Kwik making the creation of the Bean's Baby app a truly family affair.