So Many Stars – Andy Warhol by Bugaboo International B.V.

This extraordinary picture book app is based on the board book by the same name, published in print in 2013. So Many Stars is a whimsical and nearly wordless celebration of the artistic vision of Andy Warhol. According to the developers, the "So" series of illustrations created by Warhol was intended to:

" ... explore the concept of ‘So,’ including You Are So Big, You Are So Small, So Sweet, and I Love You So. Filled with sweet phrases that will enthrall parents and children alike, Warhol’s So Many Stars is a terrific introduction to an iconic modern artist. These illustrations are bundled in a unique ‘So’ book for children."

Featuring beautifully timed Read more …

Auryn – Van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Auryn, Inc

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers is an extraordinary app with unique interactivity. The characters in this book, based on a gorgeous print title published in 2007, are all in motion. Characters in the story run, work and paint in scenes that can also be viewed (just tap the settings button) with their inner-workings exposed. You can see the mechanism behind the motion in a way that is very similar to Three Little Pigs and the Secrets of a Popup Book - a very cool effect.

The book is about a boy named Camille who lives in a village where sunflowers grow wild. One day a strange man arrives in town and begins to paint. Camille's family befriends the poor traveler, Vincent van Read more …

The Four Seasons: A Vivaldi Storybook by Infinite Fermata LLC

The Four Seasons: A Vivaldi Storybook, by Infinite Fermata, is a darling introduction for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners to get familiar with and develop a love of classical music. Set to the four seasons in all their glory gives this interactive storybook the added bonus of a long shelf life.

There’s also many gorgeous collage-like illustrations by, Akiko McQuerrey, displaying animals and the natural world! From badger brushing his teeth in the winter to finding the missing gosling in spring the story progresses to dancing sunflowers and bees pollinating to the skateboarding squirrels gathering acorns in the fall in preparation for the Read more …

The Waterhole - Graeme Base by AppBooks

Based on the 2001 print title, this fascinating app brings Graeme Base's tale about animals gathering at a waterhole to life. Filled with games and an interactive storybook, this app is sure to please young and old alike. It isn't quite the same as the art-book style print title, but children will pour over this digital version to find the hidden creatures in this stellar counting book all the same.

The images are gorgeous in this app, however I would love to see the initial page with text much larger and highlighting as it is read. It is tiny and the image doesn't seem to really take advantage of the screen size. A 'loading screen' also disrupts things periodically. A page guide and Read more …

Animalia for iPad by AppBooks

If you poured over the Animalia book by Graeme Base as a child, you will really enjoy 'playing' with this book. I say playing, because this is really not like the experience most of us had with the print edition. It is more like a set of games, based on a print title. A simple copy of the book for reading has been included in a recent update, however, so you can now explore any page, along with a voice-over from the author.

Because this is really a game based on a book, I wasn't able to review it fully in the way I usually review picture books, but I was willing to try. I put 15-20 minutes for time, since that was about the average length of time I could imagine playing it in one sitting, Read more …

David Wiesner's Spot by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fans of David Wiesner are familiar with his talent for visual storytelling. Many of his books actually contain no words, as is the case for this app. That leaves readers (or in this case the app users) the ability to use their imaginations and create their own version of what is going on. The white and blue pencil zooms into a snow scene full of sledding bugs and snowflakes. You can even zoom into some mold on a sandwich and discover a whole forest scene, including a ladybug family on a picnic together.

First, the illustrations are phenomenal. I am talking some of the best I’ve seen. This is more than “hey, what a cute picture, let’s see what happens when I tap here” Read more …

The Artist Mortimer by OC Graphics

The Artist Who Stole Bits of The World is an original storybook app with text and artwork by Bo Zaunders. It was created with OCG Studios "Develop Your Own (DYO)" book app creation tool. It is a charming story about an artist who has a unique ability to capture whatever he paints permanently on his canvas. If he paints the ocean, he carries away all the water when he takes his masterpiece home, for instance. Soon everyone insists he stop painting until Mortimer finds a unique solution that will enchant readers age 4 and up.

This app is lightly animated and interactive, with nice hints for many of the touch-points. It has ample settings to adjust the music, sound effects and narration, which Read more …

A Fine Musician by The Trustee for the Tokeru Trust

"On a very fine day, ratta tat ratta tat. With his drum and his hat, ratta tat ratta tat. He came into town and he walked down the street as he drummed out a beat ratta tat ratta tat," begins this enchanting musical storybook for the iPad. It captures the romance of a walled European city in its sepia pages with tidy narrow streets, people milling about, bicyclists and street vendors. Yet the whole book feels modern in its own way. If you tap the menu bar below any page, you can even see the whole book laid out, page against page.  Look closely and you will see that it connects into a complete picture of the musician's walk through this lively little village.

This is not just a book Read more …

Song for Miles iPad by Diverse Mobile, LLC

A Song for Miles, by Tiffany Simpkins Russell, PhD with illustrations by Raheli Scarborough is a born-digital title (published initially as an eBook and book app with no paper version) in August of 2011. It is available as a digital book without enhancements (as a Kindle eBook) in addition to this app version. At the time it was promoted as the "First Black Digital Storybook Available in the AppStore," by TheRoot.com. It is also a wonderful title for children from all backgrounds, for musical exploration and an understanding of the role of art history in our cultural experience. The app is not animated and only very lightly interactive, with a few sound 'sprites', but links Read more …

A Jazzy Day - Music Education Book for Kids by The Melody Book LLC

Young music lovers (and their parents) are in for a treat with A Jazzy Day: Swinging with the BIG BAND ... an animated, interactive and enriching musical tale about one hip cat 'dad' taking his cool-cat kittens to see the big band play. All of the musicians are animated animal characters, beautifully illustrated and instructive as they demonstrate each of their instruments. Learn about the different sections of the band, from rhythm to horns and even the role of the conductor.

This tale is simple but well-crafted, describing the sounds and images that make up complex jazz melodies. When they meet the raccoon playing the bass, it says, "Close your eyes, do you hear the bass walking?" The Read more …

The Strange & Wonderful World of Ants by Amos Latteier

5-Star Re-Review [Originally published January 13, 2011] The Strange & Wonderful World of Ants is one of very few titles given 5 stars on this site. And that was before this substantial update. The book is now truly phenomenal for an educational ebook. It is, in my opinion, one of the best examples for developers who would like to create innovative non-fiction ebook apps.

This update includes narration for the easiest reading level, making this a title that is versatile enough for even young pre-readers while still being engaging for older readers and even adults. Unless you are an entomologist, you will likely learn something new about ants while reading this book. The Read more …

Lazoo Art Box by PBS Kids

An exceptional app is packaged in "Squiggles" ... including a short but sweet storybook and endless options for creative play. Two characters are featured in the story, a cute monkey named Bobu and rabbit named Miku. The pair are going to have a snack of 'jumping beans' but first have to catch the bouncy legumes by chasing them. They are on an adventure that takes them from the top of a tree all the way to the moon. This very fun story is solidly made with simplistic illustrations, all lightly animated and interactive.

After the story, though, the main feature of this app is the creativity game included. Children can draw squiggles or doodles of things like a car's exhaust, sheep's Read more …

Starting Shakespeare by Beyond the Backyard Productions Pty Ltd

Starting Shakespeare, by Deeper Richer, is a brilliant new addition to the app store; this 21st century rendition would make William proud. This app does what most teachers fail to do, make Shakespeare easily accessible to younger students and clarify the story-lines without ever giving up any of Shakespeare’s original integrity.

Starting Shakespeare explores both the world and work of William Shakespeare using two of his best-loved and most popular plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. I admire this Australian based development team for producing this state of the art teaching tool and hope to spread the word far and wide. Get this this one out to the kids! Read more …

Jazzy World Tour - Musical Journey for Kids by The Melody Book LLC

Jazzy World Tour - Musical Journey for Kids, from My Melody Book is much more than a reading app, although it includes plenty to explore in text, describing each of the locations on the map. These include the United States (New York), Ireland, Brazil, Spain, Egypt, Kenya, India, Japan and Australia. Children can record their travels in a digital travel book, collecting photos of their journey. The navigation is intuitive in this solidly made app for children ages 3 to 8.

Each location has the choice of Learn, Create and Play. Tap "Learn" and you can tap items like musical instruments, traditional foods and other items from each culture featured to find out more about them. Tap "Play" to Read more …

HangArt: Play Hangman, Draw Pictures, Tell Stories by LITERARY SAFARI INC

Beginning with the opening screen and spying that Mondrian inspired logo, you just know you’re going to be in for some fun with Literary Safari’s HangArt. It has some of the features that we love from classic games like Scrabble, Pictionary, and Mad Libs and combines them in one app cohesively.

There are a lot of learning objectives packed into this little game; Whoops – I mean educational app. Kids K-3 will not even realize the extent of what they are taking in because the app is centered on play. There are 3 modes to choose from, Classic Hangman, Word Gallery (intro to grammar), and Story Studio; and each one is addictive.

Plenty of research has gone into the Read more …

Tales from the Watering Hole – Interactive Children's Storybooks with Puzzles, Games, and Painting by Fat Red Couch, Inc.

"The Watering Hole is always good for a laugh," says Turtle to Bird, "But lately the humor has been drying up." So begins the first story in this trilogy, based on the print titles published in 2012 by the talented artist and adventurer Alex Beard. The bird, of course, is barely listening but flies off with the news that the watering hole itself is drying up, sending the Savannah creatures into a panicked version of the children's game telephone. The subtle humor and expressive animal characters make this a story that is as comical as it is instructive.

I had the pleasure of seeing Alex Beard speak (via Skype) on a panel of children's book authors last fall. His presentation was one of the Read more …

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 …

Finn's Paper Hat HD by Tizio BV

Finn's Paper hat is a charming, original storybook app about a little boy and his newspaper hat. Little Finn has a wild imagination, taking the reader on a trip sailing the seas. Subtle interactivity and animation make the story come alive on every page with unique things to tap and explore. You can tap to create more snow, hear the whale talk or to get Finn's boat to sail across the sea. And on the final page, my favorite, you can drag the sun right out of the sky to reveal a moonlit night, filling it with flickering stars everywhere you tap.

The well-crafted story is told as much through the illustrations as the text, featuring a combination of line drawings and 'newspaper' print. The Read more …

Gary's Place by Jack Pot Industries LLC

Gary is a gopher with a keen desire to set out on his own in this adorable storybook app written by Rick Walton. Created with Kwiksher, this title is illustrated by Will Terry, a talented artist and articulate blogger about the artist's journey into digital publishing at willterry.blogspot.com. Readers can also see Terry's art in the suspenseful and nearly wordless book app, Monkey & Croc (one of my personal favorites).

On the first page of this app, we meet Gary and his parents. [Note: Readers must tap each character to start the narration, but after this page it starts automatically.] Gary's parents think their underground home is comfy and cozy, but Gary says it's crowded. Read more …

Sassy Cassie HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

Sassy Cassie is spunky and creative and nothing is going to stop her from making her mark on the world. Her surprise artistic creation at the end of the book is exasperating, but also lovable. PicPocket Books brings quality children's picture book literature to digital media. Now, children can enjoy their favorites stories on-the-go, even when they do not have a physical book to read.

This interactive CHILDREN'S STORYBOOK app promotes EARLY LEARNING and helps your children develop READING skills by connecting the audio words and sounds with the written word on the page. PicPocket Books offer a unique and new experience, combining the beauty of quality picture books with audio Read more …

The Nutcracker Musical Storybook by Andy Zibits

This is a gorgeous presentation of the Nutcracker story with lots of animated elements and some light interactivity (mostly sound effects). In storybook mode the page dims to let you know to turn the page. This title is not narrated and initially I found it a bit difficult to navigate, although you can return home by tapping the top of the page and an assortment of numbered ornaments functions as a page guide. The ornaments transform after being tapped or when a page has been read. Text appears on the page and then disappears on it's own, so some young readers may find this difficult to enjoy on their own if they don't read the text in time. While I really enjoyed this tale, especially the Read more …