The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. In the Garden, based on the print title by Mitch Cronick with illustrations from Melanie Sharp, was published in 2005. According to the description:
"What happens when Mum is in the garden tidying up, but the children just want to play? This simple, humorous story book shows two boys creating mayhem while Mum works on, unaware. It explores the different places they find to play, from the tent, to the sandpit, through the grass, the leaves and the mud before finally ending up in the bath." [Source: Amazon]
In digital form, this series features light animation and interactivity, along with intuitive navigation. Words highlight word-for word and tapping the screen rewards young fingers with effects that engage but don't distract from the narrative. There is also a section for parents and educators with tips to get more out of reading with young children. The story creation tool is superb as well. It allows children to not only record their own version of this story, but to also create a new scene with images from the story. This could, with adult help, extend this app's educational potential. According to the publisher,
"The perfect way to develop essential literacy skills and transfer good reading to great writing. This book has been carefully levelled for children aged 4+."
Overall, this series is exceptional, with top-notch storybooks paired with an educational tool to create your own books within the app. All the titles are based on a well-loved print series and thoughtfully tailored for the learning needs of emergent readers.
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.
Mitch Cronick/Melanie Sharp
Harper Collins Publishers Limited
5 - 8 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 5 - 8 +
Develop your children’s reading and writing skills with In the Garden interactive book and Story Creator, from the primary literacy specialists at Collins Education. Also available: My Bike Ride and Around The World.
The perfect way to develop essential literacy skills and transfer good reading to great writing. This book has been carefully levelled for children aged 4+.
•An animated, interactive book that brings the story to life
•Audio narration, music and sound effects to aid language learning – read along with the narration as the words are highlighted
•Opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills by recording your own narration and sound effects – perfect for storytelling and to hear progression over time
•Hidden surprises to discover on every page and a Collins Big Cat quiz to see what you can remember
•Transfer reading to writing using Story Creator: make your own book using pictures, characters and key vocabulary from the story, transforming readers into writers
•Practical guidance for adults helping children to develop their reading, writing and communication skills.
Where are the children exploring? In the garden, in the leaves, in the mud – where do they go next? And what are they looking for? Use the magnifying glass to help the children find mini-beasts – you’ll have to look hard, they’re very small! How many can you find?