Love, The App by Pablo Curti

There are very few apps that come across my tablet these days that 'wow' me on any level. Love, the app is simply the most exceptional app I have seen in 2014 and would be in my "all time" top 10 for the BEST offerings for children AND adults in the digital app market since its inception five years ago. It embodies every element of a good story, irregardless of format. It is moving, thoughtfully constructed and experienced on an almost visceral level when delivered in the beautiful digital "app" package from Niño Studio.

"Once upon a time ... there was a little girl," begins this heart-wrenching and (in the end) uplifting storybook. Her parents "went away" when Read more …

A Word's a Bird by Syntonie & Actialuna

A Word’s a Bird, Spring Flies By In Rhymes by French developer Syntonie, the publishing imprint of Actialuna, SAS, brings Caldecott Award-quality to the iPad. The app includes sections for April, May, and June, as well as a “take off” poem that introduces the poetry collections’ shared theme. To visit the poem for each month from the splash screen simply tap on the square with the month’s name. After doing so the reader encounters the poem for the given month as well as an accompanying animation. 

The four poems, which the reader can enjoy in English or French, remain accessible to children even while employing poetic techniques including meter, rhyme, and Read more …

Midnight Feast by Dan Hare

Midnight Feast is another exquisite tale from the creators of The Artifacts. Complex and hauntingly beautiful, the story follows the night-time imagination of a young teen who longs to stay up past her bedtime for what she pictures is a vast banquet. Gorgeous illustrations and beautifully paced interactive dialog create an immersive reading experience for readers ages nine and up. Polished production values, thoughtful settings and the inclusion of close reading notes round out this stellar new title.

Tapping is not so much for exploring randomly in this app but an extension of the reading experience. Your fingers absorb part of the story by unlocking it, deepening your understanding of the 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 …

Jabberwocky 3D by Mythos Machine LLC

In 1872, Lewis Carroll wrote Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). Part of this novel was Jabberwocky, a poem considered by many to be the finest English language 'nonsense' poem ever written. Nonsense verse is "light, often rhythmical, (and) usually for children ... depicting peculiar characters in amusing and fantastical situations" according to Wikipedia.

In educational settings, this poem is often a useful tool for building language skills and inspiring creative writing assignments. Examples range from using Jabberwocky to teach creative writing to middle schoolers,  Read more …

Funny Kids Poems by We Are Interfaces AB

This is a short but sweet book with a simple interface and lots of appeal for the under six crowd. For the youngest readers, this app will be a treat, featuring lots of well-produced interactive and animated elements. Beautiful bugs flutter, the sun sets with moon rising, or a dandelion transforms, blowing away its delicate seedlings ... these are some of the lovely enhancements on offer over the twelve pages of this book of verses.

Simple, but but well-crafted lines of poetry are nicely narrated in either British English or Russian. Tap a small flag in the left-hand corner to change language or mute device for silent reading. There is a home button on each page, plus a setting to silence Read more …

Owl And Cat - Cute Storybook Based On Famous Edward Lear Poem by Mofables sp. z o.o.

In 1871, Edward Lear published The Owl and the Pussycat, a nonsense poem, as part of his book Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets. It is a beautiful piece of poetry, beloved and set to music frequently, including a 1960's version by Stravinsky. My favorite is from a record I had as a child, by Carly and Lucy Simon on the album, "The Simon Sisters Sing for Children". It makes a lovely accompanyment to this app, and is available on youtube.

As a nonsense poem, this is a delightful one by Lear, featuring a romantic mariner tale about an owl and a cat that sail for a year and a day. Lots of made-up words are included, like bong-trees and the piggy-wig. According to  Read more …

Auracle - Love You to the Moon & Back by Auryn, Inc

This inspirational little book is filled with warm illustrations that evoke a simpler time along with lyrical text that reads like a poem or love letter. The book is very short but can be personalized with your own text and narration. It also features lovely narration that highlights as read and simple, but intuitive settings.

The book is not animated but does have a little interactivity. If you tap on many of the images, a word briefly appears to represent that image along with audio voice-over. This solidly made book also has easy-to-read text suitable for young readers, along with swipe-style page turning.

Personalization settings allow the user to enter their own text & narration Read more …

Moon and Sun - children's book by Marcio Monteiro

Moon and Sun - Children's Book by Marcio Monteiro tells the story of two lonely children, the Sun and the Moon. They live separate lives, never imagining the other exists. Until the day that Moon climbs down from the sky and finds the Sun. The two become fast friends, enjoying the days and nights. Follow the two friends as they learn the joys of friendship and the ensuing stars that are born.

This storybook is filled with whimsical illustrations that tell the tale of two new friends. As children engage in the story, they tap to find smooth animations as Sun and Moon dance and play. Tapping in other areas of the page elicits a relaxing swirl of dots, and occasionally other small Read more …

Far To the North HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

Far to the North is a beautiful, although short little book about polar bears, snow and the northern lights. It has all the trappings of a good children's picture book. It is filled with gorgeous illustrations and a sweet, lyrical story perfect for reading (or listening) at bedtime. There is only a subtle bit of animation (a shimmering star in several scenes and gentle snow in several others), but it's just the right amount of animation for this story. 

The story itself feels like a long poem or even a lullaby. The child narrator is not American (British or Australian perhaps), but her crisp accent actually adds a certain sophisticated feel to the story for American ears. The polar Read more …

Splish! Splash! Splosh! HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

This is another beautifully illustrated title from Gina Ricci, author of Far to the North. Like her other digital book apps, this one is a short but beautiful tale. It is about a little girl named Sophie, her cat Sam and a lot of raindrops and puddles. It has all the trappings of a good children's picture book. It is filled with gorgeous illustrations and a sweet, lyrical story perfect for reading (or listening), even at bedtime.

Splish! Splash! Splosh! is also lightly animated and interactive, just enough to engage young readers without distracting from the story. Rain drops fall in most scenes and if you tap on the pictures, you can hear splashing or the meow of little Sam, Read more …

Collins Big Cat: Around the World Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. Around the World, based on the print title by James Carter with illustrations from Cliff Moon, was published in 2007. According to the description:

"Traversing across the world by train, boat and plane, the two children in this story poem encounter the extremes of sun and snow travelling to Africa, India and China. The book begins with a poem, before revealing their journey's details, and repetitive questions encourage the reader to turn the page and continue Read more …

Collins Big Cat: The Steam Train Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The Steam Train based on the print title by Ian Whybrow, was published in 2009. According to the description:

"The steam train is pulling out of the station, it heads to the hills, into a rainstorm, through a tunnel and out the other side into the sunshine and to the seaside. Follow the rhythm and the rhyme of this simple poem and travel with the train on its wonderful adventure, beautifully illustrated by Rosalind Hudson." [Source: Amazon]

In digital Read more …

Enzo and Rose by Todd Mariani

Enzo and Rose, Two monkeys in clothes is a short story about Enzo (a blue cape wearing boy) and his sister Rose (wearing a polka dot suit). The story has the two kids playing at home unsupervised. The focus is on a list of 'rules' posted on the fridge. In addition to not hitting, teasing or screaming is the curious rule that 'under no circumstances tattletale on your sis'. Enzo questions the 'sloppy' handwriting (suspecting a parent wouldn't have written it so messily), but Rose counters that rules are important because "as everyone knows without rules we'd be just monkeys in clothes."

The story is told in rhyming verse with some of the most interesting illustrations I've seen in an Read more …

All my Love (for You) HD by Dominique Maes - CotCotCot-apps.com by Des Carabistouilles SPRL

All My Love (for you) is a touching storybook with unique interactivity and gorgeous drawings by Belgian author and illustrator Dominique Maes. The blue line drawings are the highlight of this book app, featuring charming details and expressive characters on pages that scroll for additional exploration. The main character is a man with a heart for a head, telling the tale in the first person. He shares how much he loves you with pages of gifts he'd like to give. Filled with dozens of hidden interactive surprises, this lightly animated tale is one that children and adults will enjoy sharing.

There is a lot to explore within this app's 18 page storybook, including embedded extras. Scroll up Read more …

When Life Hands You Lemons ... by Rubber Chicken Media

This is a large collection of poems for kids and "the young at heart." The app description suggests it is in the spirit of "Shel Silverstein poerty and Family Circus humor". I could also imagine the main character from Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume) penning some of these irreverent poems.

There aren't many poetry book apps for kids in the app store, so if you're looking for something to scratch that particular itch for your 6-10 year old, this one should do the trick. It is chock full of funny, irreverent poems with just the right amount of childish sentiment. The book app is nicely illustrated in black & white line drawings with simple narration by the author.

There is a Read more …

Rom and the whale of dreams by BelMontis Publishers Pte. Ltd.

Rom and the Whale of Dreams, by BelMontis, is a magical dreamy tale written by Jose Miguel Vilar-Bou and illustrated by Alejaandra Zuniga that takes place in the enchanting Kingdom of Gypsies called Numia. This is where imagination is the ruler and dreaming is a thing of the past. For the people of Numia have forgotten how to dream and must suffice with only their daydreams. The young Prince Rom has a recurring dream about a whale creature and he decides to go off looking for this mysterious animal. This wonderful fairy-like tale is available in three different languages, English, Chinese and Spanish.

What child doesn’t love a great story? Great stories never grow old! Read more …

A tale off the top of my head by SARL La souris qui raconte

This tale, told in the original French and a well-crafted English translation, tells the story of an old man looking back on his life. It is touching and melancholy, with complex themes about love and loss that reads more like a long poem than a book. The man's dog is actually a she-wolf, Nimis, who stays by his side through a hundred years of reclusive existence. Beautiful illustrations nicely augment the story, with ingenious animated and interactive elements that surprise and delight.

The story is nicely constructed in free verse, although many of the themes and much of the language used will be difficult for readers under age 12 (or even older - when I ran a page through the Read more …

Auracle – The Trees Grin Beside Me by Auryn, Inc

This is a poem-like story with light interactivity and unique personalization settings. It is told in the first person by a little girl who is exploring a forest. Images depict each of the seasons while the little girl compares her own body to the trees around her, seeing the connectedness of nature.

This book was published first in print in 2010 and features rhyming text by Michelle Macdonald. The trees are depicted with expressive faces that will appeal to kids in the richly colored illustrations by Leah Davis. Users can edit the text of the book to change it or rewrite the story in its entirety, as well as record their own narration. Each page can also be tapped to see Read more …

Bubble Tubbie by Epiphany Schwarz LLC

Bubble Tubbie was created to be "a sensory romp through a child's imagination as they experience the most cherished of childhood rituals; The Bubble Bath." And without question, this is one very engaging read, featuring over a dozen pages of touchable, tappable exploration for little fingers. Created for children under six, this app is a great companion to Bubble Tubbie's other products, which are quite a bit more submersible. The print title is available in hardcover with stickers that can be used in the bath or as a waterproof (laminated) book to actually read in the tub. Bubble Tubbie also has a line of fun-looking bath toys.

The story itself is more of a long, meandering poem told Read more …

I Wonder - Kids' Book by Ware's me srl

Readers are in for a treat with this lyrical tale about a little boy named Marco, traveling by train for the first time. As he passes each scene, he wonders to himself about the things he sees ... are there dads working in the high-rise buildings, do the birds talk to each other, and is the scarecrow ever scared himself? At the end, the train pulls into the station as another one is pulling out. Marco sees a little girl in the window of the passing passenger car and wonders, does "her heart beat as fast as mine ..."

Gorgeous illustrations are one of the highlights of this book app, along with lightly animated, interactive elements. These are fun, although not really tailored to the story's Read more …

Boo! HD by PicPocket Books

In this short, poem-like story we find gorgeous illustrations and a lyrical tale that celebrates all the traditional elements of Halloween. It has a simple interface with light animation & interactivity (mostly scary sound effects and sparkles around the moon). Also features lovely background music and text that highlights as read. A beautiful digital presentation by Gina Ricci.

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

The Twelve Days Of Christmas HD by Semyon Milbert

This is a solidly made app from XIMAD with physics-based elements on every page. The traditional English song/poem about gifts given over twelve days of Christmas is presented over 12 pages with nice background music but no narration (or singing). It is a festive little book to share during the holidays with unique and enchanting interactivity. Each page is filled with things that move & sway with the iPad's movement, along with lots of fun things to tap and play with while reading. The illustrations are rich in detail & color. Some interactive elements may distract young children from the story at times, but overall this is a lovely title. This app would also be useful for singing Read more …

The Night Before Christmas - Enchanted Tales by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

This digital book app is based on a straight-to-dvd animated movie from 1995. It is NOT based on the traditional poem of The Night Before Christmas. Instead this title follows the story of an orphan named Jeffrey who lives in a toy factory. He begins giving toys away to other orphans with lots of suspenseful plot twists. In the end there are toys that come to life and a conclusion that brings a happy ending to Jeffrey and all the other orphans. The app is solidly made with highlighting word-by-word with the polished narration. For a title this long, a page-guide would be very useful, but alas is not an option with any of the omBooks. Otherwise, this is a great treat for Christmas, engaging Read more …

City Nights by Tidepool Publishing Inc.

City Nights offers a refreshing alternative to traditional bedtime stories filled with forest creatures wearing pajamas. This digital picture book has a very urban feel to it, incorporating sights and sounds familiar to children living in the city.  We think it would make a great addition to your bedtime library, so we awarded it a TOP PICK for Fun Educational Apps

City Nights is  a new app for the iPad by Tidepool Publishing, Inc.  It has the features we have come to expect in high quality digital picture books, namely a Read to me option with a professional narrator, interesting interactive Read more …

Cooper Edens Night Rainbow by Lucid Dream Atelier Inc. Apps

Based on the 1970's classic, Cooper Eden's Night Rainbow is as beautiful as it is lyrical. Gorgeous illustrations from the original art-book are paired with Eden's poetic lines. The story itself consists of uplifting responses to a series of melancholy questions, like "If the sky falls tomorrow ... Have clouds for Breakfast," and "If night falls ... Use the stars for Streetlights."

These whimsical passages are touching and touchable. Set up more like an iBook than a typical app, readers scroll by swiping with a pageguide bar at the bottom of the screen. Images are not overly animated, but they do move, allowing younsters to sweep the pictures into place with nice touches like a Read more …

Cooper Edens One More Star by Lucid Dream Atelier Inc. Apps

In print, One More Star was the sequel to the 1979 title by Cooper Edens, Night Rainbow . The physical books are classics, making for apps that are as beautiful as they are lyrical. Gorgeous illustrations from the original art-books are paired with Edens' poetic lines. The story itself consists of uplifting responses to a series of melancholy suggestions, like "If the stars burn out ... Button up the night against the cold."

These whimsical passages are touching and touchable. Set up more like an iBook than a typical app, readers scroll by swiping with a pageguide bar at the bottom of the screen. Images are not overly animated, but they do move, allowing younsters Read more …


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