Just Grandpa and Me - Little Critter by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Just Grandpa & Me by Mercer Mayer was one of the first Little Critter books, published in print in 1983. In this title, Little Critter needs a new suit, so his mom and grandfather take him shopping. Grandpa seems to get in as much trouble with mom as Little Critter does, making for fun mischief with masterful storytelling. The digital version of this book also adds a new twist, keeping track as the reader tries to find all the little grasshoppers and spiders hidden on nearly every page.

Many readers have asked, "What kind of animal is Little Critter?" According to Wikipedia, Mercer Mayer did not specify which type of animal the Little Critter is, but, "he resembles Read more …

My Dad Drives a Roller Coaster Car by Crab Hill Press LLC

From Crab Hill Press, this delightful storybook app has everything a great picture book needs. Whether in digital or print, every children's title really is defined by the story & illustrations; on those merits, this title simply sings. A fun tale is presented, made just for the tablet, but it stakes its claim on success with the oldest trick in the book ... an engaging narrative.

A little boy tells the story in the first person, explaining that his dad drives a 'roller coaster car' and he wants to drive one too. His mom rides a carousel horse, his uncle rides a rocket, his aunt rides a spinning 'teacup' and even grandpa has fun, riding a log from the amusement park to get Read more …

Papa's Boy by Tapisodes Ltd.

Papa's Boy is a beautifully hand-drawn digital book about a father coming to terms with his child's interests. The father mouse was a boxing hero (among mice) and wishes his son was more like him. The boy instead dances ballet, even wearing a pink tutu and pointe shoes as he pirouettes about his room. Papa laments that this wasn't how life was supposed to be as he stares at the trophies and posters of his own youth.

The little boy, however, shows how valuable his skills really are one day when Papa gets trapped by the cat that lives in the toy shop where they reside. The son twirls and jumps in perfect time to the player piano, distracting the cat and helping both his dad and himself escape Read more …

Daddy Balloon by Touchoo Ltd.

"Naomi had a useful dad, Normal-sized, and not at all bad," begins this delightful storybook app about a little girl and her father. One day Naomi's daddy begins to get fat, but not in any ordinary way ... something quite different was happening. Her dad was becoming a balloon! Featuring beautiful animation and interactivity that is whimsical and plot-related.

This is a solidly made app overall, with an upbeat, jazzy piano tune that plays in the background. Ample settings allow you to turn this music off, or to adjust the sound effects. The page set up is a little strange, with a bar at the bottom to slide from page to page. Page numbers would be a nice addition to this feature. I also Read more …

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Movie Storybook & Cloudy 2 Children's Activity Book by zuuka incorporated

Flint Lockwood dreams of becoming a great scientist and in this classic storybook app he discovers a way to make food rain from the sky. An intrepid reporter named Sam Sparks arrives to cover the news event, creating the perfect storm for a recipe that ends in romance. Since the publication in 1978 of this fabulous tale, young readers have been enthralled. This movie-themed app is not animated or interactive, but does feature crisp images from the film. It provides 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 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs series, will enjoy this title Read more …

Kalley's Machine Plus Cats by RocketWagon, LLC

It’s a book.  It’s a machine.  It’s a book machine.  Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats by Rocket Wagon is a beautiful and brilliant storybook app unlike any I have ever seen.  It is a true story about a little girl who wished her Dad could stay home with her instead of having to go to work, so she cleverly designed a machine that she believed would make her wish come true.  She knew that one reason her Dad had to work was so they could have food to eat and she thought that if she built a machine that could make food, then her Dad would not have to work anymore.  This little girl is the daughter of the author and developer of this app.  He Read more …

Song for Miles iPad by Diverse Mobile, LLC

A Song for Miles, by Tiffany Simpkins Russell, PhD with illustrations by Raheli Scarborough is a born-digital title (published initially as an eBook and book app with no paper version) in August of 2011. It is available as a digital book without enhancements (as a Kindle eBook) in addition to this app version. At the time it was promoted as the "First Black Digital Storybook Available in the AppStore," by TheRoot.com. It is also a wonderful title for children from all backgrounds, for musical exploration and an understanding of the role of art history in our cultural experience. The app is not animated and only very lightly interactive, with a few sound 'sprites', but links Read more …

Street Sounds Book & Game by Roads Corporation

Street Sounds Book & Game is a delightful book app created by VicRoads in Victoria, Australia. This agency is the equivalent of the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) in the U.S. They commissioned this free storybook, designed by author Danny Katz with the whimsical artistry of Mitch Vane's illustrations, to support child safety practices. This title tells a simple story, poem-like and lyrical, about road safety in a fun and accessible way for young readers and their caregivers.

In this book, a little girl named Ella describes her walk to school entirely by the sounds that she and her dad encounter. From the slam of the front door to the sounds the cars make, she narrates her experience 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 …

A Jazzy Day - Music Education Book for Kids by The Melody Book LLC

Young music lovers (and their parents) are in for a treat with A Jazzy Day: Swinging with the BIG BAND ... an animated, interactive and enriching musical tale about one hip cat 'dad' taking his cool-cat kittens to see the big band play. All of the musicians are animated animal characters, beautifully illustrated and instructive as they demonstrate each of their instruments. Learn about the different sections of the band, from rhythm to horns and even the role of the conductor.

This tale is simple but well-crafted, describing the sounds and images that make up complex jazz melodies. When they meet the raccoon playing the bass, it says, "Close your eyes, do you hear the bass walking?" The Read more …

Heidi on the Alp by JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann Barothy

Heidi Part I is a digital retelling of the classic Heidi story. In the first app, one of three (all now available through iTunes), Heidi is brought at the age of six to stay with her reclusive grandfather high in the Alps. She lives with him long enough to soften the old man, becoming quite close to him and Peter, the goat-herd. At the end of this book, we are left wondering, "What will happen to Heidi now that her aunt has come back to get her?"

As a digital book, this title is very solidly made, with easy 'swipe' style page turning, nice sound-quality and simple settings for reading with or without narration. There is, however, no way to navigate within the pages of the book. The Read more …

Caillou: What's That Funny Noise? - i Read With learning method and creative game for preschool kids by Tribal Nova

iRead With is a new educational app series from Canadian app developer Tribal Nova, developers of the iLearn with series of educational apps. The first 2 books in the series feature Caillou the popular children’s television character. The books are designed to be used by parents with their preschooler to help prepare them to learn to read. They were developed with McGill University’s Child Phonology Lab and uses the Dialogic Reading method. Simply put this method encourages parents to interact with children when reading to them- prompting them with questions , expanding on their responses, re-iterating important information and encouraging them to re-tell the story.

This Read more …

Finding Nemo Storybook Deluxe by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Disney brings their film adaptation of Finding Nemo to life in this digital book, pairing animated clips from the feature film alongside a nicely abridged version of the movie's plot. 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 hit movie.

My child, like most, loves Disney films, so he was delighted to hear the original voices from the movie interspersed throughout the book, along with lots of animation. 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 …

I Love You All The Time by Cookie Bear Press, Inc.

With Goodnight Moon, the most read bedtime board book of all time now an app, it stands to reason Cookie Bear Press would jump on the bandwagon as well with their own 1999 classic I Love You All the Time. My twins were born in 2002 and I got a copy of this book with the bright red cover and big heart as a shower gift. I don't remember much from those intensely sleep deprived years, but I do remember reading this book over and over.

This sugar sweet bedtime affirmation by authors Jessica Elin Hirschman and Jennifer Elin Cole has made the transition from paper to pixels rather well. The simplicity of the original is carried over. This is a bedtime story so everything is low key and Read more …

Little Critter Collection #1 by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

An exceptional new app for young readers (with ten books in one) is now available from Oceanhouse Media! This is the digital version of the print books, released from 1975 through 1992, by Mercer Mayer.

This collection includes the following digital titles (click on the title to link to our review):

The New Baby

Just Me and My Mom

Just Grandma and Me

I Was So Mad

All By Myself

I Just Forgot

Me Too!

When I Get Bigger

The New Potty

Just For You

These titles have been beloved for years in print and get a new life in digital, including educational enhancements. For the read-a-long effect, each word is highlighted as it is read. Tap on any word to hear it spoken, even in the Read more …

The Berenstain Bears Bedtime Battle by Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

The Berenstain Bears Bedtime Battle by Stan & Jan Berenstain was published in print for the first time in 1993. In this title Sister & Brother bear argue about bedtime with their parents, sluggishly picking up toys while whining about how unfair things are. Even when Father Bear tries to get the cubs to join in a race to pick up their room, the children are sullen and uncooperative.

In print, the title has received mixed reviews, including several on Amazon.com that point out that unlike many of the other Berenstain Bears' books, this one doesn't seem to have a clear moral. The young bears seem to win in the end, wearing their parents out rather than a typical ending where the whole Read more …

The Berenstain Bears Do Their Best by Oceanhouse Media

The Berenstain Bears Do Their Best by Stan & Jan Berenstain was published in print for the first time in 1992.  This version has the addition of Mike Berenstain as an author and was re-published in 2010.  Also added was an overtly religious story behind papa's ability to help build the kite for the kids to enter a kite flying contest.  I found the religious references surprising since the title didn't indicate anywhere that it was about God. Not that this is a bad thing for a book to emphasize, but why hide it from readers in the promotional info in the AppStore?

Many of the other Berenstain books with religious themes are much more explicit about their Read more …

Pinocchio HD - SO by So Ouat

Pinocchio (So Ouat!) is a fun, although greatly abridged, retelling of the story of a puppet that becomes a real boy. As I recorded the synopsis for this book, I found the version a bit unique, but nonetheless enjoyable. Nicely enhanced with light animation, this is a book app that is as fun to watch as it is to read.

Characters in the book act out the scenes from each page and perform dialogue as it is read in the text. There isn't anything interactive about the illustrations, although tapping the screen does stop and start the narration (which highlights as read).

The only true interactivity present in this book is in the 'extra' - a unique drop down of each page's text that can be Read more …

Martina 1 - Goodbye Grandpa by Carles Coll Madrenas

This digital book is very simple in it's construction but complex in its purpose. The collection of stories it comes from, known as the "Martina Collection" is designed "to educate children about their feelings in a natural way, without changing words and hiding things." The topic of this storybook is the death of a grandparent, a very solemn and specific topic. While it is obviously not appropriate for all-occassion reading, it is a very good book to have on hand for the specific challenge of explaining the death of a loved one to young children.

The book is not narrated and has no settings, sound or other elements that take advantage of the platform, although given its somber subject, Read more …