Lars and Friends by Carla Susanto

Some educational apps are rather predictable.  Lars and Friends, a new combination story and puzzle app, is anything but predictable.  From the opening screen, in which Lars, the red horse, has a knot of frogs perched atop his head, to the end, there are plenty of surprises.  This wonderfully creative approach to learning about the animal kingdom makes it a Top Pick at Fun Educational Apps.

Lars and Friends is the creation  Carla Susanto, a mom with an artist's soul.  It is available for iPad and Kindle devices.  The story can be enjoyed in two ways, with a Read by Myself and a Read to Me  Read more …

If I Ran the Horse Show (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat) by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Young readers will love learning with If I Ran the Horse Show (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat). This non-fiction title, published first in print in 2012, was created to give children ages 5-8 the chance to explore the history and diversity of the equine world, with a familiar tour guide, The Cat in the Hat. The learning library series was created in the late 1990's by Random House with a talented team of illustrators, writers & educators, who mimic Seuss's rhyming verse and quirky illustrations beautifully.

And now the Cat-in-the-Hat Learning Library books are available as enhanced books, with the help of Oceanhouse Media. Featuring light animation and Read more …

Bizzy Bear on the Farm by Nosy Crow Limited

This original book from Nosy Crow is based on a series of print 'toddler' board books published in 2011 and features adorable illustrations by Benji Davies. Children will love assisting Bizzy as he helps out on the farm. Interactivity and character dialogue is driven by the reader, including lots of variety and room for open-ended exploration. In order for this cute cub to complete his chores, readers will need to help him by feeding the pigs, herding sheep, collecting eggs, picking apples and much more.

Although this app is no fairy tale, it does have many things in common with Nosy Crow's other two book apps (Cinderella & The Three Little Pigs). It is polished and solidly made, Read more …

Collins Big Cat: The Farmer’s Lunch Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

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. The Farmer's Lunch, based on the print title by Paul Shipton, was published in 2009. According to the description:

"It's lunchtime and the farmer's hungry, but his lunch box is empty! He turns to all the animals on his farm for help, the sheep, cows, horses and geese, but they are all being very secretive. Are they hiding his lunch, or a much bigger and better surprise? The delightful illustrations develop the text, providing lots of points for discussion." Read more …

Bartholomew and the Oobleck - Dr. Seuss by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck, from Oceanhouse Media, was published by Dr. Seuss in print in 1949. It was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1950, and is a sequel to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. In this tale, young Bartholomew is tasked with saving the kingdom from "oobleck", a sticky goo that falls from the sky. According to Wikipedia:

"Geisel said he drew inspiration for the book from a conversation he overheard while stationed in Belgium during World War II. During a rainstorm, one of his fellow soldiers remarked, "Rain, always rain. Why can't we have something different for a change?"

This is also one of the rare Seuss books that is Read more …

The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure by Baker & Taylor, Inc.

Based on Mercer Mayer's original illustrations of the "Critter" family on a road trip, The Trip: Little Critter Reading Adventure, is truly just that - a reading adventureWhile adults delight in the familiar characters and storyline, a whole new generation of Little Critter fans is virtually guaranteed with engaging apps like this one, created by Silver Dolphin Books.

Mayer originally wrote "The Trip" as an ABC style book in 1988 before its more familiar edition in 1997 that edited it down significantly. This app is based on the later edition, with wonderful enhancements that take young readers ages 2-6 on more than just a figurative adventure, by Read more …

The Truly Great Noodle by Grids Interactive, LLC

This is a tremendous iPad book app from a new developer, Grids Interactive. It is the simple but hilarious story of a little boy named Nate, who is attempting to eat one long noodle that has wound its way around town. This noodle gets into some pretty dirty places, including winding through a cat box & the stall of a farting pig. Nate himself also burps and turns green, but the off-color humor hits just the right note of gross for its target audience; my little boy loved this book and the noodle that just seemed to go on and on.

The interactivity is top notch, with dozens of elements on every page that respond to a tap. The animations are humorous & irreverent although not Read more …

Beauty and the Beast: Storybook Deluxe by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Disney brings the story of Beauty and the Beast to life in this ebook, pairing animated clips from the feature film alongside a nicely abridged version of the movie's plot. For lovers of princess stories, this app is a real treat that includes much more than a book, providing lots of entertainment for young readers.

Animated scenes from the movie are interspersed throughout this interactive title, making this storybook stand out from many of the other movie-themed book apps. The tappable scenes animate delightfully and are easy to find with hints, although page turns can be accidentally triggered when the interactivity is too close to the edges of the page (set to Young Reader Mode to Read more …

Barnyard Mystery by Hamson Design Group Pty Ltd

Are you looking for a digital picture book that allows your child to 'choose their own adventure' with a story that is different every time you read? Or maybe one that includes your child's name, too? Well, look no further than this delightful new app that tells the story of a family visiting a farm. The family (which includes your child if you enter their name on the title page) is asked to help Farmer Bill find a cute baby chick that has gotten lost. The search takes them all over the farm, with each change in location prompting a decision by the reader.

I'm not sure how many different story combinations there are for this title, but it was a slightly different story every time I read it Read more …

A Shiver of Sharks by LITTLE BAHALIA PUBLISHING LLC

This is Little Bahalia Publishing's sequel to Julie Hedlund's first book app, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys. This title focuses on the creatures of the sea, featuring Pamela Baron's gorgeous illustrations with light but polished animation and well-crafted interactive elements. Each page has a different animal grouping shown with the proper plural term for a group of each marine species.

From a swarm of eels to a herd of seahorses, children will enjoy learning about the unique (and often comical) names for scores of sealife that go way beyond your usual school of fish. Among my favorites was the smack of jellyfish and fever of stingrays, plus the lovely narration is there Read more …

The Lorax - Dr. Seuss by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a classic tale about an environmental disaster in a world where a greedy business-person (the Once-ler) cuts down all the Truffula trees to make Thneeds.  The story begins long after the devastation, with a young boy coming to see what has happened, seeking out the Once-ler.  When the boy finds the Once-ler, he settles in for the long tale of the Lorax and his warnings.

As the Once-ler's story unfolds, the effects of each tree being cut down reverberate throughout the environment, with species after species being driven away.  The Lorax himself is a strange little creature that 'speaks for the trees' because 'trees have no tongues'. He sends the Read more …

Smarty Britches: Verbs by Cyndie Sebourn

Created by Cyndie Sebourn, a former teacher, this app is part of a series of apps that focus on grammar and are aligned with common core state standards in the US. It is a solid education app, with all the enhancements that make a storybook engaging to digital natives. Each page contains a rich assortment of activities and interactive content, including Spanish translation for many parts of the story (under the phrase "secret language").

The first book in this series was Smarty Britches: Nouns. In this title we once again meet Wyatt, a young boy with a pair of colorful pants he calls his 'smarty britches'. Wyatt takes readers on a tour of his hometown in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. We Read more …

Tractor Mac Arrives by PicPocket Books

This Tractor Mac book is the first in the series, originally published in print form in 2007.  This book tells the story of just how Mac came to live on the farm with Farmer Bill.  At first Sibley the work-horse thinks there is no use for him anymore, but then Tractor Mac needs help to get un-stuck.  Both realize the value of each other's contribution to the farm work and become best friends.  All of the Tractor Mac books have this wonderful message for kids ... a message that encourages them to work hard, work together and help others as way to feel good about yourself.  It's the kind of book series that teaches kids values through the time-honored method of good Read more …

Cowboys and Aliens: The Kids by ISBX

This title is based on the 2006 graphic novel about a group of cowboys trying to save townspeople abducted by aliens. Timed to release as "Cowboys & Aliens" hit theaters this summer, this title is only vaguely related to the movie's more mature plot. In this book, fictional kids are introduced representing sterotypical 'cowboys', 'indians' and 'aliens'. The storyline has the kids refusing to share their toys but soon they decide it would be more fun if they can all play together. Told in rhyme, the story ends with new friendships made (and possibly peace in the universe).

The app is solidly made with a lot of nice settings & extras, including painting pages based on all 23 pages of Read more …

The Harvest Festival, Stories from Number Town by 123 Number Fun Pty Ltd

The Harvest Festival is part of a series of app books by Jane Hague. This Australian series is set in a town with many interesting characters - all numbered. For instance there is Tilly Two and Policeman Ernie Eight. The main character of this story is Nun Nine who is gathering items from each of the people in town, like 3 cartons of eggs from Freda Three the Farmer and 5 jars of honey from Mr. Hive Five.

As a digital book, this title is well made with easy swipe page turning or the alternative of auto-play. The text highlights as it is narrated in a crisp Australian accent. There are several small interactive sound effects to go along with the otherwise still images, like the sound of bees Read more …

AlphaBELCH - A Children's Book About Burps by Stephen White

AlphaBELCH is just what it says it is, "A Noisy A-to-Z Book About Animals Who Burp", but it is also much more! This title, originally created for the iPad, is full of really fun animals with a button on every page to hear them burp. A second button on every page can be tapped to hear the text narrated. This means if you want you can easily read this without narration. The narrator is great though, so either way this is great alphabet book, with all the educational value that parents expect. 

It also has something kids love - the chance to laugh at funny sounds of bodily functions. And they are really funny and unexpected, like the fish that burp underwater and the firefly with Read more …


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