Kalley's Machine Plus Cats by RocketWagon, LLC

It’s a book.  It’s a machine.  It’s a book machine.  Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats by Rocket Wagon is a beautiful and brilliant storybook app unlike any I have ever seen.  It is a true story about a little girl who wished her Dad could stay home with her instead of having to go to work, so she cleverly designed a machine that she believed would make her wish come true.  She knew that one reason her Dad had to work was so they could have food to eat and she thought that if she built a machine that could make food, then her Dad would not have to work anymore.  This little girl is the daughter of the author and developer of this app.  He 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 …

Food Fight! - An Interactive Book by Glenn Melenhorst by Jelly Biscuits

Tim is a little boy that loves to eat only sausages and Sammy is a little sausage (living on a planet far away) that loves to eat little boys. Both have parents trying to push vegetables. Then their worlds collide when Sammy comes to earth in a rocket. The boys have a stand off and finally both decide to give up their favorite food. But what will the two enemies-turned-friends eat now? Brussels sprouts, of course!

Food Fight! is a phenomenal book app that is as funny as it is fun to play with. It has high-quality computer animation and vivid illustrations that really enhance the reading experience. It is also interactive, but not in a way that distracts from the story. There are lots of Read more …

Bartleby's Book of Buttons Vol. 2: The Button at the Bottom of the Sea by Monster Costume

Bartleby is back! My little one loved Vol. 1: The Faraway Island and was very excited to explore this new title. In the sequel, we find our button-obsessed protagonist heading out on a quest for a button at the bottom of the sea. Bartleby's lady-friend Sally helps him on his quest, which involves traveling in a submarine to the ocean floor. With light animation and ingenious interactivity, Bartleby Vol. 2 is a book-game hybrid that children (and many adults) will find deeply entertaining.

The reader needs to find the proper combination of actions on each page to allow the story to continue. There are buttons, switches, levers and pulleys on nearly every page that challenge the reader Read more …

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Trilogy Studios Inc.

The classic story of a little boy and his purple crayon comes to life in this book app in a way that enhances the original 1955 print title without losing any of its brilliance. Over 50 years later, this story still captures the creativity and imagination of childhood with simple line drawings and slowly paced text. As a digital offering, the story comes to life even more, giving a whole new generation of children the magical feeling that comes with anticipating what Harold will draw next.

This is a great example of how a digital book can elicit a certain nostalgia from adults while still 'wowing' the little ones. Enhanced with simple but elegant animations and the option of Read more …

Astrojammies by Demibooks Inc.

Astrojammies is well-requested at bedtime by my little astronaut, so maybe yours will like it too? Traveling along with Jimmy, the little boy in star-covered jammies, is a real treat in this imaginative book. Shake the iPad on the first page and Jimmy's jammies shimmer with stars (lock the screen orientation first, though).

As the book continues, the reader can interact by spinning Jimmy, flicking him around the universe, making him dodge comets, tapping on a rocket that takes off, touching a planet that oozes or revealing a space baboon's face on a planet. But by far my favorite page is the one where several planets hover calmly ... until you touch them or move the iPad, then they Read more …

Monster's Socks by Martin Hughes

Storytelling just got a lot cooler with this title about a little monster on a quest to find his lost pair of socks. Not-at-all-scary, this is a book app that will enchant youngsters with innovative features and top-notch production values. The little monster 'walks' across the screen with the help of the reader. Arrows in the bottom corners of each page let kids move the main character back and forth to explore  without any actual page 'turning' involved. This fits the medium beautifully and feels fresh and game-like, despite the more-or-less linear storytelling and well-crafted and paced text. This is definitely a 'book' but also something more.

Creative interactive elements are Read more …

Alphabet of Space - Smithsonian Alphabet Books by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Alphabet of Space from the Oceanhouse Media's Smithsonian Collection - is a beautifully illustrated alphabet book about the stars, planets and space. The print version of this title was released in 2011 along with an audio CD. As a book app, this title sparkles, giving enormous value over its print counterpart, including narrated text that highlights as read. This book series fills a great need for digital book apps with non-fiction educational content. The books selected so far have been well vetted as print titles, making it easy as parents & educators to select these digital books with confidence.

Each title in this series takes the original print images and Read more …

My Dad Drives a Roller Coaster Car by Crab Hill Press LLC

From Crab Hill Press, this delightful storybook app has everything a great picture book needs. Whether in digital or print, every children's title really is defined by the story & illustrations; on those merits, this title simply sings. A fun tale is presented, made just for the tablet, but it stakes its claim on success with the oldest trick in the book ... an engaging narrative.

A little boy tells the story in the first person, explaining that his dad drives a 'roller coaster car' and he wants to drive one too. His mom rides a carousel horse, his uncle rides a rocket, his aunt rides a spinning 'teacup' and even grandpa has fun, riding a log from the amusement park to get Read more …

Kung Fu Robot by Propaganda3, Inc.

This graphic-novel style app presents an entirely unique and deeply engaging story for older readers, ages six and up. iTunes categorizes this app as 9+ for "Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence" but I tend to agree with this review from one of my favorite sites, SmartAppsforKids.com, by Heather Hetler: "Kung Fu Robot is violent by using nunchucks against chunky peanut butter and swatting away ninjas (from stealing his sandwich) with ninja spray (aka Dad's deodorant!) and a broom in the "Whack-a-Ninja" game. I think it's totally appropriate for even my almost-6 year old daughter."

"Kung Fu Robot has to save the world from ... from a kung-fu sized appetite!" This hip app story is Read more …

Click Clack by Roads Corporation

Click Clack: Buckled in your booster seat is a delightful book app created by VicRoads in Victoria, Australia. This agency is the equivalent of the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) in the U.S. They commissioned this free storybook, designed by author Danny Katz with the whimsical artistry of Mitch Vane's illustrations, to support child safety practices. This title tells a simple story, poem-like and lyrical, about road safety in a fun and accessible way for young readers and their caregivers.

In this book, many children (and adults) are pictured buckling up and staying safe in the back seat of the car. After securing themselves in the vehicle, each child passenger is featured on several pages Read more …

Cozmo's Day Off for iPad - Interactive Storybook by Ayars Animation

This is one of those books that takes interactivity to a whole new level.  There are over 100 different places in it's mere 10 pages to amuse kids, including several games embedded in the story.  The animation and overall graphic style reminded me a little of the movie, "Robots". And in some ways, this book is basically like a movie you can touch and shake, triggering all sorts of animation and sound effects.  The animations are definitely of the 'wow' variety, so this is a book that children will want to play with as long as they are allowed.  I put 30 minutes for time, since that was the longest I let my child play with it, but I suspect it could occupy a child for Read more …

Jubitron the Girl Robot: The Lovely Little Picnic by Curious Media Inc.

Curious Media has created an inspired little app in Jubitron, featuring fun interactive elements and story enhancements that take the picture book to a place 'out of this world'. On every one of this book's nearly 20 pages, there is an unique way to engage the reader with the story. From twirling the world beneath the feet of Jubitron to flinging her spaceship through the clouds, this is definitely a title that will capture the interest of young explorers, especially girls.

The story has well integrated and polished enhancements, however it is a bit light on plot. The characters embark on an adventure, but it doesn't get more complex than a picnic interrupted by rain. I must admit, though, Read more …

I Am An Astronaut by Tizio BV

From Tizio Publishing, this personalizable title allows you to take a picture of your child (or use a photo) to show them as an astronaut inside the book's pages. It is short but sweet, featuring light interactivity and animation. Among the fun things to tap on this title's eleven pages is a cool 'control panel' for a rocket ship. It could even be the digital replacement for that old-school toy, the toddler 'busy box' (a toy with lots of buttons & levers).

Seeing your child's picture in several scenes (or their name, which appears on a flag), is really fun; kids reading or listening will be especially engaged as they anticipate seeing themselves in each scene. You can enter a child's Read more …

A Not So Fading Light by GotFocus Solutions Ltd

One day, while a little boy and his sister are eating breakfast, they hear on the news that the sun will only last another '4.8 billion years'. "The boy thought this didn't sound like a lot," begins this funny, lightly animated and interactive tale that will have curious children riveted. The two main characters solve the sun's dilemma (although not in a scientific way), in this deeply satisfying story that young readers won't soon forget.

Fun things to tap and explore pop out on every page, providing lots of fun ways to engage with the story, including many that are nicely tailored to the plot-line. These elements are simple but satisfying most of the time, however they are not Read more …

Toy Story Read-Along by Disney Publishing Worldwide

This free Toy Story app is often one of the first children's ebook apps that new iPad owners download. It's consistently in the top 10 for free books in the App store and you hardly need me to tell you it's worth downloading. It's a fully animated offering, with scenes crisp and spectacular, right from the movie, plus bundled together are two decent 'mini-games'. "Parachute Drop" is a GI Joe parachuting down, using motion controls you tilt to help him avoid obstacles & "Toy Barn Maze" has a simple maze for you to drag Buzz around to pick up his friends and exit.

The app is remarkably stable for such a big production, so it's a nice one to show off the new iPad to the kids. And it's full Read more …

The Lettermen go to the Moon by Stefan Nowak

This tale has the 'lettermen' going to the moon, although it also has a surprise twist at the end. Like the other "Lettermen" books (found under the category 'Education'), this book is interactive in a way that not only makes reading fun, but reinforces spelling, reading and sight words. The 'Lettermen' themselves are simple but engaging cartoon letters with hands and feet. These titles are very appealing to kids and the characters all have great expressions that match the words they are forming on each page.

The narration, a British English speaker, is crisp and clear. The Lettermen was a series of books first created in the late 1980's by Roger Knights. This book was published in Read more …

Being Benny by ArtGig Studio

Being Benny is a fun little ebook with great illustrations and rhyming story. It is told by an adult narrator at first and then complemented nicely by a child narrator. The book tells the story of a bored little boy on a rainy day who daydreams. He thinks to himself, "If I were a Tree, I'd Probably Be Oak ... If I were a Chimney, I'd Make Lots of Smoke!"

The story consists entirely of these rhymes, with delightful illustrations of each scene with anthropomorphized characters, like a tree with eyes, nose and expressive mouth. The overall effect is delightful, making for a perfect little bedtime read or for a young reader to enjoy on their own. The text also responds to tapping by triggering Read more …

Cars 2 Storybook Deluxe by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Have you caught the Cars 2 movie yet? Well, my little boy was delighted to help me review the new digital book app by the same title, especially after seeing the movie. The app is a packed offering that includes a storybook, puzzles, painting pages and two small mini games. If you liked Cars 2 or plan to see it soon, this is sure to be a hit with your little Disney fan, too.

The movie plot points are highlighted throughout the book, but it could be difficult to follow if you aren't familiar with the film. For my little boy, I think seeing the book before the movie gave him a lot of fun anticipation, but he didn't fully understand the way the plot was connected until after we saw Cars 2 in Read more …

How Far is UP by E Sargeant

How Far is Up? is a new and mesmerizing storybook app about three friends who wonder how far it is to the moon, sun and even to the faraway galaxies beyond our own. Rusty, Buster and Ting explore the concept of "up" in a familiar, earth-bound world ... from the top of a cupboard to a tall tree, and then to the peak of a mountain. Soon they look farther, beyond the well-known to our greater universe, expanding their view by traveling in a rocketship. The reader is taken along on this exploration of the stars, planets and space, with a wonderful mix of facts and musings.

The story unfolds with perfect pacing alongside lyrical verses and some of the most beautiful piano music I've ever heard Read more …

Rocket Book by Oleg Shadrin

This week, I used this app in a blog post about the difference (or lack thereof) between iBooks (or eBooks) and the new digital category of "book apps". The Rocket app is a quirky and high-quality public domain storytelling experience that began in print in 1912, by Peter Newell. It is useful to demonstrate how different an app and eBook presentation can be on the touch tablet, particularly as an illustration of the point that an app can even be less interactive, although more flexilble in design.

As an app, this title is not only free, but also delightfully presented. It takes an original story from the turn of the last century and makes it accessible to new audiences in the 21st century, Read more …

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Movie Storybook & Cloudy 2 Children's Activity Book by zuuka incorporated

Flint Lockwood dreams of becoming a great scientist and in this classic storybook app he discovers a way to make food rain from the sky. An intrepid reporter named Sam Sparks arrives to cover the news event, creating the perfect storm for a recipe that ends in romance. Since the publication in 1978 of this fabulous tale, young readers have been enthralled. This movie-themed app is not animated or interactive, but does feature crisp images from the film. It provides a simple reading (or listening) experience that will reinforce the movie or prepare young children for what to expect before going to the theater.

Fans of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs series, will enjoy this title Read more …

Lola & Fred by Pul Edition GmbH

My rating for this digital book is likely to seem very high considering what this app doesn't have - no animation, no interactivity, no audio, and not even text. It's just a high resolution ebook based on a print title with illustrations that tell a story without words. The illustrations can be zoomed in and out with a pinch of your fingers, but that's it. Compared to my other 4 star reviews, this book doesn't take advantage of much of what an iPad can 'do'.

But wait! What this book lacks in features, it gains in being a unique title, even among print books. Picture books for young children that are filled with rich, expressive illustrations and no words at all have an important place in a Read more …

Little Frigglepants: Builds a Rocket Ship by Homemade Preschool (TaleSpring)

Little Frigglepants: Builds a Rocket Ship is a book with a fun storyline and cute graphics that will engage little astronauts will light animation and lots of interactivity. You can tap the ship to see it take off, play with the rocket's controls, and even blast aliens on an outer-space adventure. The book features a story that will appeal to kids about siblings and one very harried mom.

This is a really fun app for kids with lots of things to tap and explore. The characters clothes change colors in cool ways when tapped, there are bubbles to pop, and lots of neat sound effects. The storyline isn't necessarily tied to these interactions, but they were a real hit with my little boy. He Read more …

Megamind by FrogDog Media

This app version of the Dreamworks movie Megamind (2010) is a visually beautiful book on the iPad. It captures all the major plot points from the movie while doing a nice retelling of the story of super-villain Megamind as he kills his nemesis, Metro Man. Then he needs a new challenge, so he creates a new villain, Titan. This gives Megamind the opportunity to become the hero for the first time in his life. For fans of the movie, this iPad book version will be a fun trip through all their favorite scenes.

This book has a small silver diamond that appears when in "read to me" mode only.  Tap this button and a short audio clip plays.  There are a few animated Read more …

Billy the SpaceCat - Narrated Children's Story by Ardit Bajraktari

The story of Billy the Space Cat is a fun read for kids with a message about not giving up on your dreams.  It is a sweet story about a cat that wants to fly and after many failed attempts, gets to go up in an airplane, instead.  This story has crisp graphics with a charming & easy to follow story.  It is narrated and has some sound effects (not interactive) that start on each page (i.e. a meow, sound of a rocket, spashing, etc.).

The narrator of this book seems to have taken tranquilizers before reading, though, since the narration is so slow that it almost has a bedroom-voice quality to it.  Oddly, the narrator speeds up as she gets into her stride later in the Read more …

Little Fox Gets His Wish by song jie kun

"Little Fox liked to be naughty at night. His biggest wish in the whole world was that the darkness would last a very long time," begins this retelling of the traditional fable about the fox, the rooster and the sun. But even when little fox 'gets his wish' fulfilled, he is not happy. A moral story about being careful about what you wish for unfolds in this digital tale available in English & Chinese.

This book app is solidly made with simple but sufficient settings that include a home button and arrow page turning. Crisp, native narration is well done, although the text itself is very small and difficult to read at times. Interactive elements allow readers to move the sun to change the Read more …

Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System by MINILAB LTD

Blast off with Professor Astro Cat in this delightful new learning app from Mini Lab Studios in partnership with their sister company, Flying Eye Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher. Professor Astro Cat's Solar System features fun facts about all the planets in our solar system. Presented in a book-game hybrid app, this content is not only educational but also deeply engaging. Kids earn medals as the learn, including answering True/False questions in a rocket game that is so fun they barely realize they are being tested. My 9 year old was enthralled and especially enjoyed the chance to build his rocket as he progressed through the levels.

Navigation Read more …

Ready Jet Go! Space Explorer by PBS Kids

Note: This app is narrated without text to read along and formatted more like a game than a book.

Ready Jet Go Space Explorer lets us join along with Jet and his friends as they explore and play in space. There are games and coloring functions along with star charting capabilities that may just keep my kids from making off with my phone when we are out camping. Not that I’d take my phone camping. That would be silly. But I digress…

This app opens up with Jet asking us if we’re ready to explore. Almost immediately he asks us to find some constellations, telling us that we can explore the sky by swiping on the screen. We explored the sky for a bit this way, tapping on Read more …

My Spacecraft – Rocket Science for Kids by urbn; pockets

With My Spacecraft – Rocket Science for Kids by urbn; pockets kids can go on a knowledge trip to space! Kids can become an astronaut and learn a great deal of informative facts with this fun, colourful and interactive app made for kids 6 to 8. Urbn; pockets are the creator of other great apps like This is my Food – Nutrition for KidsThis is my Weather – Meteorology for Kids and This is my Body – Anatomy for Kids.

Kids can suit up and learn great facts about being an astronaut, rockets, shuttles, space stations, the solar system, the universe and get involved using the many interactive points through each learning section. In the rocket Read more …