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The Very Itchy Bear

September 3, 2014

By: Carisa Kluver

The Digital Media Diet

A very hungry bear has another lovely sequel in store for young readers!

The Very Itchy Bear is the third picture book to follow Nick Bland's print title, The Very Cranky Bear, about four animal friends who just want to find a nice, dry place to play cards on a rainy day. In the 2nd book, The Very Hungry Bear, each animal tries to placate the angry (and hungry) bear in hopes of sharing his cave. This book takes the bear (and the reader) away from the familiar cave and animal friends. Bland's storytelling style and gorgeous illustrations are still a highlight in this title, though, published in print in the UK in 2011. In fact, I think this is my favorite app, so far in the series.

Bear is peacefully reading a book (perhaps one of Bland's earlier hits?) on a grassy knoll when a flea jumps up to say hello (by biting the bear, of course). With beautifully paced text and charming narration from Angus Sampson, a story unfolds about two opposites who attract and eventually become friends. Children will love the subtle but polished animation that reinforces the storyline perfectly.

Simple concepts like under, over, high and low are demonstrated by bear as he jumps away from the itchy flea. Word meanings are nicely reinforced, too, like when bear tumbles into an interactive water scene with the word "S P L A S H" splashing in after him. When you tap on the flea, readers are invited to zoom in to the next scene with a magnification that lets us see the little flea well enough to read his expression. This is terrific way to show off big and small in focus on the screen and creates a unique digital reinforcement of the conceptual messages in the book.

There are also several fun interactive touches, including 5 hidden flowers found throughout the app's 15 pages. If you find all 5, an extra is unlocked that lets young readers build a sailboat from parts at the bottom of the screen and then test its sea-worthiness. Page turning is by arrows at the bottom of each screen, drawn to look like tree branches. Ample settings include a way to personalize the book with your own recordings, a pageguide and instructions. Audio settings are a bit sparse, however, with no way to control the sound effects separate from the voice-over. It would also be nice to see optional highlighting for the narration. This app also has several links that leave the app, for places like the appstore, email & web without any type of parental gate (although links are tucked into the credits menu).

Overall, The Very Itchy Bear is a great sequel, with a comfortingly familiar feel but an entirely new story arc. Animation from this team is exceptional, so polished you don't notice the sophisticated design. Interactivity is well-tailored to the narrative, but also insanely fun. Playing with the water scenes was engaging enough that my child and I returned to one of the pages after reading, to simply touch, pull and drag the rippling waves. This app is also a textbook example of how to seamlessly translate a previous print picture book into a fully animated and interactive book app. Nothing is lost, everything is gained in this storytelling transition from the talented team at Wheelbarrow press.

Highly recommended!

This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.

All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.


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The Very Itchy Bear

September 3, 2014

By: Carisa Kluver

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Nick Bland

We Are Wheelbarrow PTY LTD

Length (time):
8 - 12 Minutes

Based on non-digital book: Yes

Allows Own Narration:

Uses Motion: No

Age: 3 - 8

English •

Length (pages):
16 Pages


Story Synopsis - The Very Itchy Bear

From iTunes:

Bear is back again and - uh oh! He's STILL cranky!
In the third book of the beloved Bear series, Flea tries to say "Hello" by biting Bear high and low...

'Itchy Bear' is another fun & humorous book for young readers by authour/illustrator Nick Bland. This is the third app Bear stars in - Nick's books 'The Very Cranky Bear' & 'The Very Hungry Bear' have already been adapted to popular apps for the ipad,iphone and ipod touch! Even so, Bear hasn't let stardom go to his head - he is just as lovably gruff as ever. A character that is truly bought alive by voice acting from the equally loveable Australian actor, Angus Sampson.

- Collect native australian flowers throughout the book to unlock a SPECIAL SECRET interactive!! 
- Zoom in and out to take a closer look at Flea!
- Beautiful illustrations and adorable animal characters 
- Fun animations and sounds to find on every page 
- Choose to record your own audio, or be read to! 


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Orientation: Landscape

Format: Universal


Read to Me, Read Myself, Record, PageGuide, Help, Index, About, Links to: Web, Email, AppStore

App Release Date:


Size: 70.86 MB

Version: 1.3

Lite Version Available: No



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