Boats - Byron Barton by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Published in print in the late 1980's, the delightful simplicity of Byron Barton's illustrations have now arrived in digital. This app covers all the important aspects of water-bound vessels, from the types of boats to the steps it takes to bring a cruise ship into a harbor. Presented in bold colors with simple lines, these charming illustrations will win over any toddler, especially those fond of transportation books.

This title is lightly animated and interactive, allowing the curious child to drag items around the sky view, tap to hear words or tap to name objects in the scene. Settings include nice volume controls, a home button, pageguide and even recordable narration options. Like 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 …

Jackie Junko by Springy Thingy

Jackie Junko and the Old Ship Yard is an app storybook about a mischievous young boat who wants to go on a dangerous mission across the water, like his father, but runs into more trouble than he bargained for. The world they inhabit reminds me of Pixar's Cars, except everything is a boat instead of a car. It is the first in a planned series of Jackie Junkie app-stories and it is iPad only.

What I like:

* The graphics are very, very good and unique. They are bright and colorful and give the feeling of interacting with a cartoon. Each page has water at the bottom so the reader can see what is happening under the boats. There are different fish and sea creatures, including my personal Read more …

Penelope HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

Penelope the Purple Pirate is a wonderful story for kids about a little girl who doesn't want to take a nap, so while stuck in her room, she dresses up and then imagines she is a pirate out at sea. She wears a purple sash and has friends among the sea animals. She rides on the back of the turtle to find an island and search for treasure. When she 'returns' from her adventure she is ready for her nap (tired from all her travels, perhaps?).

This book features simple narration with a tiny bit of animation, like sparkles around the treasure. The sound effects that were added in the update are really nicely spread out, with something 'hidden' on nearly every page. They are things like splashing Read more …

Scott's Submarine by Charly Playe

Scott's Submarine is a cute digital book about an underwater adventure. The book has a unique graphic style and storyline that can be read at two age levels (2-3 & 4+) which could also translate nicely to reading levels for early readers and those who are more advanced. The book also has settings for multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French & Japanese. This makes it a terrific choice for foreign language learning & practice.

As a digital book, this title really stands out most for its stunning computer graphics. There is a lot to see and to do in this book, too, and while it is not really animated, there are several fun scenes that 'vibrate' to give the Read more …

Deep-Sea Submarine HD by Top That! Publishing

"You're the captain of a submarine!" ... your mission is to explore the seas. This app is very fun for kids, shown through a window that looks like a submarine looking out into the deep. Readers can play with the controls, turning the steering wheel and maneuvering the submarine through treacherous waters. Beautifully enhanced and full of engaging interactivity, this is one app that toddlers, preschoolers and anyone in the under six set will truly love.

Every other scene has text explaining the mission of the submarine driver ... on the scenes in between this text, the reader is challenged to move their submarine across the page using the control panel. This lovely framing of every page Read more …

F:sh by Brandwidth Marketing Ltd

This unique new digital book app is an undersea adventure. Three friends explore the ocean, a deep sea cavern and even help a stranded submarine along the way. This book app is also fun because it moves through pages that go forward and then down and back up when the trio explore the sea cave, challenging our notion of a strictly linear storyline.

Plip, Shella & Jelly are the main characters that get together one day to explore the seabed. They discover a hole and explore its darkness until one of the fish has an epiphany triggered by a sneeze. The storyline is fun although their 'adventures' were a bit anti-climatic since all they do is go down into the sea hole and then return home Read more …

Lulu in Polynesia by ZANZIBOOK

Lulu is a little French girl who goes on many adventures around the world with her cat, Zazou. This story is about their second trip in the series ... to French Polynesia. The pair arrive by air, this time parachuting onto the islands. This title is lightly animated and full of interactivity that makes the reader a part of the story. Every page has elements to tap that move the story along or provide additional dialogue and information about the part of the world they are exploring. A small pink bird can also be found in every scene. Watch Lulu dance, help her prepare a Tahitian salad and even write a souvenir postcard to a friend (Note: This feature uses your email account).

This app is 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 …

I learn with transportation: Sounds, words, colors, shapes, numbers, languages, and more ... by DADA Company Edutainment S.L.

Like a bright, colorful board book, this app gives toddlers and preschoolers the chance to match early learning concepts to images of fun vehicles. In animated scenes, young learners see and hear images for concepts that include sounds, words, colors, shapes and numbers. Solidly made with ample setting for navigation and controlling sound, this app is easy enough for the youngest child to navigate.

The app is lightly animated and interactive, too. Tapping on most of the vehicles brings a quick reward of sound effects, a change in the animation and verbal reinforcements. I found the narration a bit too "bright and shiny" sounding for my tastes, but I think it hits just the right note for the Read more …

The Little Mermaid - Auryn by Auryn Inc.

This digital book version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson is based on the well-crafted translation by Anthea Bell with the breath-taking and ethereal illustrations of Lisbeth Zwerger. Anderson originally wrote the tale as a ballet in 1837. This picture book version was published in 1984 to rave reviews. It follows the original tale very closely, with no happy ending. The storytelling makes up for any disappointment, though.

This digital presentation takes an otherwise gorgeous print book and brings it to life. The story is told both underwater and above on land, with pages of the former that look and feel like they are actually submerged in the sea. The effect is Read more …

B&E: Water by BNE MEDIA PTY LTD

B& E: Water is a quaint universal storybook featuring two sisters B & E. The story takes us through the actions that B must take in order to wake her sister up which involve lots of noise, playing inside including coloring, playing outside in the mud puddles and finally a bath and evening downtime.  A bit about the company, B&E Media is based in Australia and was founded by two sisters who began creating children’s storybook apps using original stories with animations. The animations in the app were unexpected and happened every three to four pages and really helped bring the previous pages to life. The app features narration, word highlighting, simple Read more …

How I Became a Pirate by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

How I Became a Pirate is based on the print title of the same name, published in 2003 by Melinda Long with illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner David Shannon (for the 1998 classic, No David!). With expert word craft, timing and overall storytelling genius, Long weaves a tale about young Jeremy, a boy on a beach trip with his family. Without a word to his distracted parents, Jeremy joins a band of pirates to help them bury treasure. The adventure is wish-fulfillment at its very best for readers of all ages, as the boy teaches the pirates about soccer, learns to sail the stormy seas and even has a pirate pillow fight. It's not surprising that this title received many accolades in Read more …

I'm Going To Be A Pirate by Two Big Dads Ltd

I'm Going to be a Pirate! is an original storybook about two sisters. Little Lily describes in detail her plans for a pirate adventure ... but her big sister Amanda is not impressed. Amanda says things like, "You can't be a pirate, you get seasick," trying to ruin her little sister's fun. The ever-exuberant Lily responds to each of Amanda's complaints with irrepressible optimism & creativity.

For instance, when Amanda says Lily can't be a pirate because she doesn't like to eat fish, Lily adds that she'll just bring their mom along to make sandwiches. Page by page, the two girls weave a detailed world of pirate pretend play. And in the end Amanda stops complaining, asking if she can be a Read more …

The Pirates! Band of Misfits Movie Storybook by zuuka incorporated

The Pirate Captain is a beloved but a bit beleaguered pirate when he tries to assert his authority. Perhaps he would be not only well-loved but also well-respected if he could just win the "Pirate of the Year" award ... the most coveted award in the world of pirate-dom. His trusty companion, Polly, certainly agrees. But is she really a parrot, or something much more rare? Readers will enjoy an adventure in this movie-themed storybook app, featuring crisp images from the film.

This title is not animated or interactive, providing 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 Read more …

The Pirate Princess ~ 3D Interactive Pop-up Book by StoryToys Entertainment Limited

StoryToys is, as far as I am concerned, the pioneer developer for 3D interactive pop-up books. I’ve seen other developers attempt to rip off some of their ideas to little avail. What I also appreciate about StoryToys is that they are continuing to tweak their format with new ideas and original stories. This app, the latest in their series, is more slick and visually impressive than the previous books, and they are really utilizing the iOS features to create excellent and engaging interactive books.

Strangebeard — The Pirate Princess is an interactive book with 3D pop-up pages full of mini-games which complement the storyline. The story is original and the plot Read more …

Alizay, pirate girl by SlimCricket

Get ready for an adventure with Alizay the Pirate Girl! This app by French developer Slim Cricket Books takes children on a treasure hunt with Alizay and her father, Captain Rubber Foot. Together they will set sail to Wind Rose Island where they must complete several activities in order to find the treasure.

This book can be read in either French or English. It has two reading options: Read to Me and Read by Myself. It also has three difficulty levels to choose from. The harder levels will take more skill and time to complete some activities.

My two girls, ages 6 and 11, tested this app with me. The beautiful illustrations, interactive items, and animation right on the “cover” Read more …

Rolling Pea by KievSeaPirates

Note: Contains (still) Ad for Mazda Cars upon opening app, sponsor website accessible under parental 'gate'.

Rolling Pea, developed by KievSeaPirates and illustrated by Ivan Sulima, is an Eastern European folk tale from the Ukraine. This handsomely illustrated chronicle features a determined little boy named “Rolling Pea” who grows up to have amazing strength and embarks on a quest to rescue his brothers and sisters from a dungeon guarded by the fierce dragon. The story has spectacularly detailed artwork which is combined with subtle and detailed interactivity, fabulous sound effects and original music, all making Read more …

The Gift: An Interactive Storybook by Persian Cat Press Ltd

Inside a floating clamshell, a baby washes ashore at the feet of a young boy who picks her up lovingly. The story of The Gift unfolds from here, with the boy trying to wake the sleeping babe with the help of seven unusual creatures called "Oomorels". This digital book is lightly animated and full of unique interactivity that will engage readers in the story's progress.

Pages turn by tapping the right, bottom-hand corner, shown as a curled edge. Lovely and expressive narration with a British accent is available, although there is no highlighting to go along. The story's text covers up the illustrations in most scenes, but can be hidden with the tap of an arrow. This was an interruption in 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 …

Lobster Tale - Children's Book and Game by John Luchin

Lobster Tale is a whale . . . er, lobster . . . of an original tale that’s great for kiddos ages 6 and up. I can’t tell you too much detail without giving too much away, but this story follows Dominico, a lobster fisherman who has found himself on some hard times. What happens when he takes over a run-down lobster restaurant?  

This book app is chock full of all the dry humor and quick wit a person could ask for, which is absolutely right up my alley. It's also a little more edgy, with a few surprising twists that keep it from being your average predictable tale.The length of the story, along with the higher vocabulary, make this a great app for elementary-aged Read more …

Myro Arrives in Australia - Animated storybook 1 by NickRose Ltd

Myro Arrives in Australia by NickRose Ltd is a lovely storybook book app for your kids. Meet Myro, the the Smallest Plane in the World, in his new home in Australia and follow him on his first flying adventure in the endless skies of the Australian Bush!

Fun Educational Apps Short Review

Myro Arrivs in Australia is the first book in the series of six adventures about Myro, the smallest plane in the world. It is a well designed storybook app that will delight your little ones. The app offers 32 pages with animations and interactive features and various reading modes - Read to me with top narration by Christopher Biggins and other great actors; read myself or if you prefer, record Read more …
Fergus Ferry HD by SNOWBALL PRESS PTY LTD

Fergus Ferry, the lovable little ferry boat from the books and interactive app for Apple, Android and Amazon devices has been winning new fans and delighting old friends both young and old since their launch.

Fergus and his team are excited to share his adventures with you in his very own Animated Cartoon Series that are now available to watch on YouTube. Currently, animations 1-12 are available to watch and they will continue to add one animation per week until all 24 episodes are added. Check back every Friday for a new episode. They also created closed captioning for each animation, for children to read along while watching. Click the link above or just search Fergus Ferry in Read more …