The following reviews first appeared in SLJ’s column Touch and Go. After each review, you’ll find the date it appeared. Online, there are links to related resources, a trailer (if one exists), and a “purchase” button. Please note that later versions of some of these titles may now be available. Visit Touch and Go for additional reviews, commentary, and interviews with people in the field.–Daryl Grabarek
The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My. Tove Jansson. illus. by author. Spinfy, WSOY, and Sort of Books. 2012. iOS, requires 5.0 or later. Version:1.0.3. $5.99.
K-Gr 3 –Moomin, the beloved character from the Finnish children’s book series, is featured in a story first published in 1952. In the tale, Moomintroll is on his way home when he encounters Mymble. Mymble is distraught because her sister has run away. Moomintroll agrees to help his friend look for Little My, and the two soon find themselves on an perilous journey, narrowly escaping a rock avalanche, a powerful vacuum cleaner, and the electric Hattifatteners.
Navigation is intuitive; swiping the screen turns the page and tapping the letter “T” reveals a text box for readers who want to follow along. The rhyming text and narration are particularly pleasing and sound effects such as chirping birds, creaking trees, and the howling wind enhance the telling. Jansson’s bold red, blue, and purple die-cut illustrations translate well to the digital version.
Subtle interactive elements fit in nicely with the story. Users may tap the screen to set the animation into motion: fish jump, rocks tumble, and birds fly. Tilting the iPad causes objects such a hot air balloon and an umbrella to move across the screen, and a lantern to swing. The superb narration and delightful interactive features enrich this story making it one that children will want to visit again and again.–Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME
Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery. Jamie Lee Curtis. illus. by Laura Cornell. Auryn, Inc. iOS, requires 4.3 or later. 2012. Version: 1.0.1. $ 5.99.
PreS-Gr 3 -Curtis’s charming picture book (HarperCollins, 2000) about the fate of lost balloons gets the royal treatment from Auryn, Inc. High production values permeate this engaging app, which encourages children to explore and create.
On the home page, viewers are greeted with a melodic tune and several options; they can watch the author’s animated video explanation of how she came to write the story, or her quick overview of its features, or start the story. Curtis’s tale and Cornell’s whimsical watercolor illustrations are enhanced by tapping, pinching, swiping, and tilting the screen; these movements activate hidden actions, musical interludes, background voices, sounds, amusing animated vignettes, and interactive objects.
Some of the more spectacular features include the opportunity for users to record their voices (as though affected by helium), to make balloon animals, to write and email postcards, to create characters and produce animated movies in a theatre, and to snap and insert a photo of themselves on a balloon.
Additional features include a settings panel, hints, bookmarks, and a highlighted text read by the author with the option to repeat words or lines. The depth and the variety of the activities embedded in this flexible app ensure that viewers have a different experience each time they return. A visual and interactive treat.–Elisabeth LeBris, Sears LTC, Kenilworth, IL (7/26/12)
Boom Bah! Phil Cummings. Illus. by Nina Rycroft. Kane Miller and Demibooks Studio. 2012. iOS, requires 4.2 or later. Version: 1.0. $4.99.
PreS-K-Based on the book of the same title (Kane Miller, 2010), Boom Bah! takes a small animal (mouse) and a small noise (ting) on a cumulative romp through a house and countryside, growing from one animal and kitchen-improvised music to a band outfitted with a collection of instruments. The story’s beginning features farm animals playing spoons, cups, and lids as they gleefully parade through the pages. When the group discovers a uniformed band, they follow it to the book’s final “Tah-dah!”
Each page introduces a movement, along with a sound and an animation. A touch to the mouse elicits the tap of a spoon against a cup. On the next screen, viewers see the cat stretching for the small creature and hear a chorus of notes played in rhythm. Some pages produce individual sounds, like that of a tuba, others feature strands of music. The text does not repeat when touched, but the sounds do. Page turning and other operations are intuitive—no directions needed.
This is an app that will be appreciated for its magic and its connections to movement and music.–Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI. (7/13/12).