The Chalk Box Story, an interactive storybook for kids based on the classic tale by "Corduroy" autho by Auryn, Inc

Don Freeman wrote the classic children's story, Corduroy in 1968. This book, about a box of anthropomorphized chalk, creating a picture together, was written in 1976. It teaches about colors while telling a poignant tale. At first there is just sky & sea, then an island and a little boy ... but he is sad, so the chalk come together to draw a boat to rescue him. Stories like this have captured a certain magic about childhood and storytelling for generations, but in digital, the effect is truly perfected.

Each piece of chalk pops up to be tapped by young readers, who can then fill in the areas of the page for that color with their fingers. It isn't a free-form drawing experience, but 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 …

StoryBox by Bayard UK

Are you looking for the digital equivalent of a children's magazine - the kind with activities, stories, games and more? Well, look no farther! Storybox is a new children's digital magazine based on the print publication of the same name. This is a wonderful selection of activities & stories to occupy a child.

The app contains a full storybook with narration and animation, two cute comics (one a wordless "Polo" story), games and two short fact books about science and animals. There is only one edition of Storybox currently available, but it is definitely worth a download. Subscription information for the print publication is included within the app and I hope there will Read more …

Angelina Ballerina’s New Dance Teacher by HIT Entertainment

Now Universal App! Angelina Ballerina is an adorable mouse who loves to dance, appearing for the first time in 1983 in a series of 20 books by Katherine Holabird and Helen Craig. This app is based on the TV series that began in 2009 on PBS and was digitally animated, making for a perfect 'transmedia' presentation as an interactive digital book. Each page of this well-produced app has stunning animation that is triggered by the tap of a finger, letting children bring their favorite characters to life in a way that is breathtaking within the otherwise still page.

In this story, Angelina gets a new ballet teacher, Miss Mimi, and learns a lot about opening herself up to new ideas about dance. Read more …

Auryn HD - Teddy's Day by Auryn, Inc

This book is a favorite in our house! It is a story about a little girl that wants to find out if her teddy bear is actually coming alive and doing things when she's asleep or at school. So she hides watching him, page by page, saying "I'm gonna catch you" until eventually she finds him with honey on his lips at the end of the book.

This is a very cute story appropriate for the youngest of kids and yet touching in a way parents will enjoy, too. The narration is a little girl's voice, but still clear and easy to listen to. Each page highlights some of the interactive elements, which include animations, music and many extras like a puzzle and even a coloring page that let's you post your Read more …

Being Global by SachManya LLC

"What does it mean to be global?" asks this upbeat digital children's book, accompanied by an invigorating guitar tune that makes readers want to dance to the same global beat. Based on the 2009 print title from Little Pickle Press, this nicely crafted picture book makes a smooth transition to digital. It features light animation and interactivity, plus lots of extras.

The story features a laundry list of ways children can think globally, with a focus on diversity, caring for the planet, and building community. Ambient sound effects and excellent pacing give the whole experience a polished, multi-media feel. This can be especially nice for storytime with multiple listeners on autoplay. The Read more …

KidsMag Halloween Special Edition by Portegno SA

This app contains a short but cute storybook about two kids (Teo & Bianca) who explore their basement to find costume materials – with scary and funny results. Beyond the story, you’ll find an exceptional assortment of extras. It has puzzles, spot-the-dot, coloring pages, sequencing/matching activities and much more than I can even list. 5-Star extras in this & every edition of “KidsMag”!

This title is one of over a dozen titles briefly reviewed for a special post, "Enhanced Spookiness! Top 10 iPad Book Apps for Halloween"

KidsMag Issue 2 by Portegno SA

KidsMag 2 from Portegno Apps is part of a fantastic series of digital 'activity books', including a short but cute storybook. This issue has little brother Teo going on a fishing trip. He and his friends find worms, a perfect spot along the river and cooperate to catch the 'big one'. With 30 pages of activities, this is one of those apps that will keep a bored kid busy (and learning) for nearly an hour.

As a digital offering, this title is solidly made with ample settings to navigate and adjust the apps audio. The story and all activity pages have narration, so even pre-readers can enjoy this app. Illustrations are simple computer graphics but colorful and engaging in a cartoon-like way Read more …

KidsMag Issue 03 by Portegno SA

This app contains a short but cute storybook about two kids (Teo & Bianca) planning their family vacation. When they decide to go to the beach, readers get to help pack the suitcases and learn about sea life before the final chapter in their story about building a sand castle. With over 30 pages of activities, this is one of those apps that will keep a bored kid busy (and learning) for nearly an hour.

As a digital offering, this title is solidly made with ample settings to navigate and adjust the apps audio. The story and all activity pages have narration, so even pre-readers can enjoy this app. Illustrations are simple computer graphics but colorful and engaging in a cartoon-like way Read more …

Miss Spider's Bedtime Story for the iPad by Callaway Digital Arts, Inc.

Miss Spider stars in this popular book series by author David Kirk, and fans of this title on the bookshelf (published in 2006) will want to download a copy of their favorite Miss Spider tale for bedtime in digital form. The 'play' feature is basically an animated movie packaged into the book, lasting over 12 minutes.

Once you are in the reading mode of the book, the interactivity brings the story alive and adds a magical quality to the whole experience. The audio is crisp & lovely with nice, relaxing background music that makes it lovely at bedtime, although there are many games and interactive elements that could be too stimulating for some children.

The pages of the book, under Read more …

Timmy Tickle by Harriet Pellereau

Timmy Tickle is a short, but sweet digital book app for the youngest readers and listeners. A simple story about an adorable octopus is accompanied by stunning 3-D computer animation. Timmy wears roller skates, plays dress up and even does the dishes (although he does break quite a few). The story explores numbers, colors, and musical notes among other early learning topics.

In the latest update, Timmy has gotten a lot of new enhancements to his storybook, including a change in the text to make it more engaging for young readers. There are also nice sounds to let children know when they have completed the interactive elements correctly on each page, making this title intuitive enough even Read more …

The Edible Suit by Tizio BV

This app is based on The Old Man and the Edible Suit, the first book by illustrator Jon Higham, published in 1986 (now out-of-print). It is beautifully illustrated with lots of whimsical detail ... the kind where you notice new things every time you page through it. Readers will find the nonsensical, nineteenth century Edward Lear poem, The New Vestments, gets a nice treatment, including light animation and plenty of finger-tapping interactivity. The crazy old man who wears edible clothes will amuse today's children as much as it did over the past century, only in a more interactive way.

As a digital offering, this book has lots of great settings to adjust the sound and navigate Read more …

Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Railway by HIT Entertainment

Now Universal App! Thomas the Train is beloved by many children, from the animated television and movie productions, to the actual toy wooden trains that populate many of the 'toy rooms' across the globe. This digital book is based on the movie, "Hero of the Rails" released in 2009. The story in the book follows the movie plot and has Thomas and his friends help Patchwork Hiro, a broken down train, rise back to his former glory as a 'master of the railway'.

The story is nicely narrated with vivid images from the movie. These scenes have nice, slightly animated touches, like steam coming out of the trains, as well as some more animated scenes of the the trains moving along the tracks and the Read more …

Miss Spider's Tea Party by Callaway Digital Arts, Inc.

Miss Spider's Tea Party is a book series by author David Kirk, and fans of this title on the bookshelf will want to download a copy of their favorite Miss Spider in digital form. It's really a computer animated jewel. The 'play' feature is basically a movie packaged into the book, lasting nearly 6 minutes.

Once you are in the reading mode of the book, the interactivity brings the story alive and adds a magical quality to the whole experience. The audio is crisp & lovely with nice, relaxing background music that makes it okay at bedtime, if you can keep your child away from all the games and don't find the interactive elements too stimulating.

The pages of the book version (under "Read") Read more …

Thomas & Friends: Diesels and Steamies by HIT Entertainment

Now Universal App! Thomas the Train is beloved by many children, from the animated television and movie productions, to the actual toy wooden trains that populate many of the 'toy rooms' across the globe. This digital book is based on the movie, "Day of the Diesels" released this year (Sept. 2011). The story in the book follows the movie plot and has Percy feeling left out as Thomas befriends two new Diesel fire engines. But the true meaning of friendship prevails when it turns out the new diesels are trying to take over the steamworks.

The story is nicely narrated with vivid images from the movie. These scenes have nice, slightly animated touches, like steam coming out of the trains, as Read more …

Thomas & Friends: Misty Island by HIT Entertainment

Now Universal App! Thomas the Train is beloved by many children, from the animated television and movie productions, to the actual toy wooden trains that populate many of the 'toy rooms' across the globe. This digital book is based on the movie, "Misty Island Rescue" released in 2010. The story in the book follows the movie plot and has Thomas needing to be rescued by his friends, who then successfully build the 'Search and Rescue Centre' out of Jobi wood.

The story is nicely narrated with vivid images from the movie. These scenes have nice, slightly animated touches, like steam coming out of the trains, as well as some more animated scenes of the the trains moving along the tracks and the Read more …

Toy Story 3 Read-Along by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Disney's Toy Story 3 comes to the iPad in this storybook app packed with extras. The title is lightly animated and interactive, including scenes in 3D (special glasses required). For lovers of the Toy Story franchise, this is a delightful book app well worth a download. It contains hours of entertainment for children with puzzles, games and coloring pages in addition to the 30+ page story.

This book app also has lots of settings, including text that highlights as it is read, page guide and young reader mode, which prevents pages from accidently advancing by switching to arrow-only page turning. You can also record your own narration or put the book in 'read myself' mode. The sound Read more …

Tangled: Storybook Deluxe by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Disney brings their film adaptation of the Rapunzel story to life in this digital book, 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 in the form of games, puzzles and coloring pages based on the Tangled movie.

My child loves this Disney film, so he was delighted to see a few animated scenes from the movie interspersed throughout the book. This is one of the ways this storybook stands out from many of the other movie-themed book apps available. This title also has a nice choice of Read more …

Milly Molly and Heidi Untidy HD by KIWA International Ltd

Milly, Molly and Heidi Untidy is one of the "Milly, Molly" books based on a popular educational series from New Zealand. These children's books have been published in print since 2000. They are about the adventures of two little girls from different ethnic backgrounds and often include their multi-cultural friends. The series has the tag line, "We may look different but we feel the same.” See the youtube clip at the bottom of this review to hear the theme song.

The print version of this title is listed under the topic 'self improvement' and focuses on the girls' friend Heidi and her very 'untidy' room. Her mother wants her to 'tidy it up' but Heidi procrastinates, saying 'I don't Read more …

Princesses Learn Chinese - Snow White by early languages llc

This free app comes with one storybook, Snow White, and lots of extras to go along with it. The story itself is not especially enhanced, although it is a very unique app overall. The goal of the app is to "expose children to their first Mandarin Chinese words and expressions, through stories, games and songs."

The storybook itself is a nice, traditional version of the fairytale about a girl who runs away from her evil (and vain) step-mother to live with a bunch of dwarves. There are some lightly interactive elements like tapping on images to hear sound effects (e.g. birds chirping and dialogue in English & Mandarin). What really stands out is the way the story intersperses Chinese Read more …

Milly, Molly and the Tree Hut HD by Kiwa Media

Milly, Molly and the Tree Hut is one of the "Milly, Molly" books based on a popular educational series from New Zealand. These children's books have been published in print since 2000. They are about the adventures of two little girls from different ethnic backgrounds and often include their multi-cultural friends. The series has the tag line, "We may look different but we feel the same.” See the youtube clip at the bottom of this review to hear the theme song.

The print version of this title, published in 2004, is listed under the topic 'health' and focuses on the girls' friend Maxter and his obsession with TV. His mother wants him to play outside and get exercise, so Milly and Read more …

Milly, Molly and the Bike Ride HD by Kiwa Media

Milly, Molly and the Bike Ride is one of the "Milly, Molly" books based on a popular educational series from New Zealand. These children's books have been published in print since 2000. They are about the adventures of two little girls from different ethnic backgrounds and often include their multi-cultural friends. The series has the tag line, "We may look different but we feel the same.” See the youtube clip at the bottom of this review to hear the theme song.

The print version of this title, published in 2005, is listed under the topic 'self-improvement' and focuses on the quality of "punctuality". In the story, Milly & Molly are taking a bike ride to one of the Read more …

KidsMg Easter Special Edition by Portegno SA

KidsMag from Portegno Apps is a fantastic series of digital 'activity books', including a short but cute storybook in each issue. This issue has the children listening to a bedtime story about Easter. It features a land of bunny 'egg painters' ... a group of helpers not unlike Santa's elves. The main character is just learning his trade and gets lots of inspiration from his siblings before finding his own style.

As a digital offering, this title is solidly made with ample settings to navigate and adjust the app's audio. The story and all activity pages have narration, so even pre-readers can enjoy this app. Illustrations are simple computer graphics but colorful and engaging in a Read more …

Toucan Toucan't by Top That! Publishing

This is a sweet little book with a playful feel. The text of the book uses a cute play on words, since "Toucan" sounds just like "Two Can" and the alternate pages use "Toucan't" in place of "Two Can't". The 2 Tucans are featured on each page, alternating between things two friends CAN share and things two friends CANNOT share (for example, it starts with "Toucan Tango.", followed by "Toucan't share a potty."). Young children will be amused by this play on words and the silly scenarios the toucans find themselves sharing and not sharing on alternating pages.

There are nice, but limited interactive elements and very simple animation, probably just right for a young child. This book is one of Read more …

Toy Story 2 Read-Along by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Disney fans who enjoyed the free Toy Story book app will enjoy this title that follows the storyline of the first sequel, Toy Story 2. As Andy goes off to 'cowboy camp' the toys are left behind for an adventure that includes trying to save Woody after he is kidnapped by a collector.

The app is packed with extras and nicely made with simple settings, including a young reader mode that allows for arrow rather than swipe-style page turning. High quality music and narration give the app a nice polish. Text highlighting as the story is read, along with recordable narration round out this feature-filled storybook app. There are also small interactive elements on every page (indicated with a Read more …

Disney Princess: A Royal Christmas by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

This is a solidly made book app, featuring three popular princesses from the Disney films. Cinderella, Ariel & Tiana are each featured in one of three storybooks within the app. A print version of this book was published in 2010 and included a 4th story about Aurora. The app is lightly animated with fun interactive elements that go along nicely with the simple but satisfying storylines. The app also contains puzzles and coloring pages which can be accessed from within the app's pages or through a menu on the title page. Fans of Disney Princesses won't want to miss this title.

This title is one of over two dozen titles briefly reviewed for a special post in our blog for the winter Read more …

Compass 3D Storybook - My Ocean Friends by Compass Media Co., Ltd.

My Ocean Friends is a cute interactive book for very young children.  It is not lised under "Books", though, but under "Education".  It has lots of activities in it's mere 9 pages.  There is a puzzle, several little quizes about elements of the story and a coloring page that is actually quite nice at the end.  There is a very fun 'fast grey shark' on page 6 that when tapped, swims off saying "I'm fast".  My son loved this one and asked me to watch it several times while he had a huge smile on his face.  And if you leave the book alone for too long on any page, the whale falls asleep until tapped again.  It's really adorable. 

The whale is the narrator Read more …

Books for Kids: Daniel and his toys by FUDEA-IIE-UFRO

Daniel and his toys is an extremely short title at only 4 pages, but it is very interactive with lots of educational features. Readers can tap on the boy to get him to put away his toys, put apples in his dump lorry (truck) and ride his tricycle (nice modeling of wearing a helmet too). The stories in this series of "Books for Kids" are all bi-lingual, too, making them great learning tools for Spanish-English language activities.

The app is solidly made with both swipe and arrow page turning, highlighting with narration and tap-to-hear for any word in the text. The reading comprehension activities that follow the story are really the best part of this app, though. Questions that check Read more …

Who is that little kid? by Tizio BV

Who is that Little Kid? is another cute offering from the Dutch team "Sieneke & Tineke". The 'story' is more a series of pages asking, "Who is that little kid?" with pictures of kids doing things like playing, eating or spending time with family members. The book is just the right length for toddlers, although my 5 year old also enjoyed it a lot. He especially liked guessing what the child was doing before I read the answer on each page.

The book is also humorous and enhanced by funny sound effects. Every page has a few unique sounds to be triggered, but nothing that would encourage senseless tapping. The kids in most scenes have great 'laughing' sounds as well as a wide Read more …

I Have to Go!! by Tizio BV

I Have to Go!! is a cute title from the Dutch team "Sieneke & Tineke". The 'story' is about a little one who has to go to bathroom and can't find her potty. She goes from room to room, speculating on where she can go to pee. "Should I do it on the couch?" she wonders. She also considers many other inappropriate places until she remembers her potty is in the bathroom. What a relief.

This book is just the right length for toddlers, although my 4 year old also enjoyed it a lot. Every page has a few unique sounds to be triggered, but nothing that would encourage senseless tapping. A funny little series of clanging noises happens whenever you tap on the little girl, which Read more …

It's great being little! by Tizio BV

It's Great Being Little for iPad/iPhone is a new offering from the Dutch team "Sieneke & Tineke". The 'story' is more of a list of reasons it's great to be little. Every page has an image of kids doing fun things - like jumping in puddles, dressing up and building a tent. The book is just the right length for toddlers, although my 4 year old also enjoyed it a lot. He is at the age where it often seems more like 'it's great to be big', so I think he appreciated the message.

The book is also humorous in a child-like way that fits the topic perfectly and is enhanced by funny sound effects. My son really liked the sound the boy makes when he is eating, although I thought it Read more …

All Different Colors by Jean Ruth by Merripen Press

If crayons came to life, what would they do?  What would be on their minds?  What would they talk about?  All the Different Colors by Jean Ruth and Merripen Press imagines that scenario.  It focuses on the color Gray.  Every other color in the crayon box has been used except for Gray.  This makes him feel quite left out and invisible until one day when he finally gets picked and used for a very special purpose.

The story opens up as the crayons wake up early in the morning.  They are all inside a crayon box eagerly waiting for their boy to come and use them.  I love how the author gives crayons faces and personalities of animals that represent Read more …