Dear Zoo by Pan Macmillan

Based on the classic 1982 Rod Campbell title, Dear Zoo is an adorable and beautifully enhanced book app that takes the very best of a traditional 'lift-the-flap' title in print and brings it to digital seamlessly. Children will enjoy this story, about a child who writes to the zoo to send a new pet, but each animal is not quite right for different reasons. A fun matching game is also included, letting kids match the animals in the book to the words used to describe them - like "too scary" or "too big". Eventually a perfect pet is sent to the youngster, one that is just right.

This app is well made and intuitive to use, but it does lack some of the settings and features that book app reader Read more …

A Troop is a Group of Monkeys by LITTLE BAHALIA PUBLISHING LLC

Little Bahalia Publishing's first book app, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, is a short but sweet title featuring gorgeous illustrations with polished animation and well-crafted interactive elements. Each page has a different animal featured with the proper plural term for a group of each species. From a parliament of owls to a tower of giraffes, children will enjoy learning about the unique (and often comical) names for multiple creatures of any type. Among my child's favorites was the bloat of hippopotami and the quiver of cobras.

The story is simple, but well put together with subtle alliteration and nicely paced rhyming text. Colorful and engaging illustrations come to life with a Read more …

Goodnight Safari by Polk Street Press LLC

"Night is falling in the savanna ..." begins this short digital picture book. It features richly illustrated pages with a 'textured' appearance that softens the safari in a lovely way. Young readers get to help adorable wild animals prepare for the night on each page. Similar in style to Nighty, Night!, this seven page journey has the child tap on each baby animal to help them with a task. Help the giraffe reach leaves to eat, the rhino take a bath and the baby monkey swing into his mother's arms. Only the last page has a slight twist, tapping the sun instead to cause it to set.

The light interactivity and animation is very well done, enhancing the story without overstimulating a child Read more …

The Adventures of Puppup: Lost at the Zoo by Fletcher Grayson

The Adventures of Puppup: Lost at the Zoo from Graymedia Productions, tells the tale of old Puppup, a puppy toy softie, reminiscing about a big adventure trip to the zoo with his girl Julia and her Dad, where he meets a wonderful bunch of friendly animals who help him out. It brings to mind elements of both Finding Nemo and Toy Story but Fletcher Grayson's story is wholly original.

The most striking thing about this interactive book is the illustrations, and I'm not really sure how to describe them. They are a really visually appealing mélange of real photographic images that have been richly textured and artistically rendered with paint strokes and other Impressionistic effects. Read more …

Gerry the Giraffe HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

Gerry the Giraffe HD is a delightful story about Gerry and his quest to improve his volleyball skills written by Melissa Northway of Polka Dots Publishing and published by PicPocket Books. This beautifully illustrated book is set in Africa where giraffes love to play volleyball. Gerry is left behind when his friends on the “Super Sonics” team go off to volleyball camp. Gerry is sad that he is not invited to volleyball camp because he is small and they believe he is unable to play. His mother gives the sage advice that he will grow up and perhaps he should try to improve his skills over the summer. Gerry thinks about it and decides that his Dad’s advice of Read more …

The Lettermen go to the Zoo by Stefan Nowak

This fun digital storybook under the category "Education" 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. They are very appealing to kids and have great expressions that match the words they are forming on each page.

This tale has the 'lettermen' going to the zoo. The narration, a British English speaker, is crisp and clear. The Lettermen was a series of books created in the late 1980's by Roger Knights. This book was published in print in 1993. According to the information page in the book, "It was never intended to be an educational Read more …

Zoozoo Readables HD - by Cavallo Media by Cavallo Publishing, Inc.

Zoozoo Readables is a reading app based on the series - Zoozoo Into The Wild - available in print as a 'leveled' reader for young children. The app contains eight stories, each based on on a wild animal with simple sentences that build reading skills through repetition, sight words, and highlighting as the text is narrated. A short animation plays on each well-illustrated page to engage children.

If tapped the animation replays, but other than that feature, this title is not really interactive. The eight books contain six pages each with sentences carefully designed by reading specialists, building on familiar concepts, like "I swing in the tree" "I play in the tree" & "I live in Read more …

A Hug and a Kiss by Tizio BV

A Hug and a Kiss for iPad/iPhone is from the Dutch team "Sieneke & Tineke" that created the toddler ebook: What are you Eating? reviewed earlier this month. This ebook is also for toddlers and is therefore very cute, but also short. It is perfect for little ones at bedtime and a consistent favorite of my child.

The sound effects are delightful. We especially liked the sound the snail makes when it gives its 'kiss'. There are a few sounds to trigger by tapping the pictures on every page. The animals make great sounds (kissing, roaring, etc.) and the little boy is adorable with his expressive sounds - from scared to silly.

The illustrations are hand-drawn and based on the Read more …

Hide Run Growl by Fiona Treweeke

This cute, short title features a tiger cub that is trying to hunt while his mother is injured. His mantra is "Hide, Run, Growl" (and swipe) as he explores his possible prey. Many creatures are just too big for him to consider pouncing on though. After passing by a crocodile, snake, giraffe and elephant, the cub finds an animal just the right size to try out his skill. Hide, Run, Growl is told in simple, repetitive sentences perfect for young listeners & readers.

This title is solidly made with easy arrow page turning. It is lightly animated with a nice educational & interactive feature that shows the name of everything pictured on each page with accompanying voice-over. Read more …

iStory Who am I ? by Apps Of All Nations LLC

This is a simple & sweet book that will please very young kids. It has a nice overall look and ample options. The choice of child and adult narrator is a nice touch and the narrator is easy to listen to. There are a few small interactions & animations on each page that tie nicely into the story & don't overwhelm the under 5 crowd.  Mostly tapping for a short animation of the cute illustrations.

Overall a nice little book, but really short - if it was on a bookshelf, this one would be a board book for toddlers.

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 …

Motlies Easter Island Adventure by JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann Barothy

This is part of the Motley series from Just Kids Apps. It is an unusual but imaginative series of tales based on a series of creatures that are, "very different and individual animals. They can all speak animalish – the common language in the wild – and are able to share their experiences and stories. They are quirky and fun and can help to bring an understanding and appreciation of the world around us."

At Christmas time you may have discovered their free book app, an adorable story starring one of Santa's reindeer that can only fly upside-down. Like the story from Christmastime, Henry the Upside Down Reindeer, this Motley story has a fun plot about a trip to Easter Island Read more …

Flori's Adventure HD by Velago GmbH

Little Flori is a Giraffe who is about to have an exciting adventure ... while having breakfast, Flori's phone rings. The reader is asked to help find it. In the bedroom, Flori finds the phone and answers it. Her friend Tino asks her to come help him in the forest. So she gets dressed (with the readers help). After that a game begins that is very free-form, with few hints that are obvious. There are arrows and dialogue to guide the reader, but at this point the app feels much more like a game with text than a book with a game built in.

After this, the 'reader' has to puzzle out the clues like a real game, so the time it takes to finish this app will really vary depending on the child. There Read more …

Doolie by chris ventress
<p>This is a delightful 'moral story' based on the story of the giraffe that finds his purpose. At first Doolie thinks he is of no use and 'funny looking' with his long neck. Every other animal seems to have something useful to offer, but Doolie cannot find his 'gift'. Soon a little wise bird suggests he be himself and wait to see how he can find his true purpose.</p> <p>The app is solidly made with easy arrow page turning and nice narration, although no highlighting as read. The text is somewhat problematic in this app, though. It covers up the illustrations and is very small and text-heavy for a picture book. The story is well-crafted though, and each page does have fun Read more …
An Amazing Day At The Zoo by Imaginatronics LLC

This educational app is filled with over a dozen detailed, educational descriptions of zoo animals. In a window on each page, there is a video showing the animal in its natural environment. The videos play silently with a background of assorted animal noises. Each page is narrated by a little girl named Sarah who adds personal commentary to many of the stops throughout this 'zoo trip'. Videos can be seen in full screen mode with a quick two finger gesture, although the image is less clear in the larger view.

I found the narration nice enough, but it was a little too enthusiastic in a way that becomes grating on the listener over time. The book is educational though, and my son and I Read more …

Duck, Dog & Bear Go to Africa by TaleSpring LLC

This is the story of Duck, Dog and Bear traveling in Africa where they meet new animals such as a monkey, elephant and giraffe. The story is 16 pages of single sentences written in rhyme and targeted to children two to four years old. The app is narrated on each page when a button is pushed and illustrations are manipulated by hitting the "tap" button. The app has music, but minimally. Pages can be moved forward or backward by tapping the page arrows, swiping left or right or by choosing from the page selection.

There are two ways to approach this app. The first is to view it as more of an iBook since that medium usually offers fewer features and relies more on the story as a selling Read more …

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