Four new apps incorporate song with varying degrees of success.
Over in the Jungle (Dawn Publications, $4.99; PreS-K), sung to the tune of the classic children’s counting song, is sure to become a favorite of the preschool crowd. In addition to the rainforest setting, this version features outstanding design, vibrant art by Jeanette Canyon, realistic sound effects, supplemental nonfiction text, and a challenging game.
Each page of the rhyming text introduces a jungle animal and a number of offspring from one to ten. Ocelots, honey bears, howler monkeys, leaf cutter ants, and other rainforest animals make an appearance, offering children an opportunity to learn about creatures they may not have encountered before. Taps, swipes, and jiggles to the screen trigger movements and/or additional sound effects.
Users can choose to read the story themselves, have it read to them, or listen to it sung. As the words are voiced, the text is highlighted. Those choosing to listen to the song will be treated to the catchy tune that retains the narration’s expressiveness. A touch to the arrow that appears on every page will allow children to hear the text (or song) repeated. At the end of the story, viewers are invited to find the 55 offspring depicted in the story populating one final, colorful jungle scene. An icon in the shape of a leaf brings users to a menu page from which they can access animal facts and photos; author, illustrator, and publisher information; and other apps by the developer.
Over in the Jungle is a feast for the senses. From the authentic background sounds to the deftly crafted polymer clay animals, each page is a delight. This app is perfect for sharing one-on-one or in a storyhour.—Cindy Wall, Southington Library, Southington, CT
There are three titles in the “Lullabies from Around the World, Read-Along, Sing-Along Collection,” but it is difficult to consent that any singular title is complete as an iBook. Each enhanced production—Dream Songs Night Songs from Belgium to Brazil, Dream Songs Night Songs from China to Senegal, Dream Songs Night Songs from Mali to Louisiana (The Secret Mountain/Association of Canadian Publishers, iBooks, $7.99 ea.; PreS-K)—offers a flavor of dreamy music and some strong illustrations, but the stories by Patrick Lacoursière lack any cohesive structure and there are almost no interactive features.
When open, each book has two options: read aloud and turn pages. Automatic page turning with the read-aloud mode is probably the best choice, otherwise viewers may think their device is broken. Each page offers one music clip, which ends abruptly. The clips carry no continuity between pages, and listeners are likely to be disappointed by the truncated tunes. The stories are weak, although the China to Senegal is the strongest of the three. Each page turn has one line of text, which possibly can be viewed as a dream-like phrase, but doesn’t work as storytelling.
For example, four consecutive pages in the Belgium to Brazil read: “Follow in the footsteps of an old woman,/Towards a young musician and his talking accordion,/Under a sky drawn by your friends, the stars,/Where your parents’ parents have already traveled.” Viewers never see the young musician again, and as soon as the accordion is heard, the music fades away. The page turns, and a new piece of music begins.
The books offer some appeal: the illustrations by Sylvie Bourbonnière are warm and rich, and there are two full songs (with lyrics) at the end of each book. An iTunes link allows listeners to purchase all the songs, which is probably the best investment for those interested in multicultural music.—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, Newburgh, NY