SLJ‘s reviewer Chris Gustafson makes an excellent point in her review of Vincent Godeau’s With a Few Bricks: in many ways pop-ups are the ideal books to transform into apps. Godeau’s, of course, isn’t the only interactive book to become an app. Touch and Go’s first review was of the iPad version of Dorothy Kunhardt’s classic, Pat the Bunny. And David Carter, paper engineer extraordinaire, was one of the first to experiment with apps. But interactivity is only half of the story; does Godeau build one that will appeal to kids with his bricks?
Vincent Godeau’s With a Few Bricks was originally published as a pop-up book (L’Agrume). It’s now an app (Cléa Dieudonné, iOS, Free; K-Gr 5), and it’s an elegant idea. Fragile pop-ups beg to be touched and are easily damaged by young readers, while apps are all about touching and transformation. Bright colors and simple shapes welcome users to this story and navigation is easy: children can choose to read it in a linear fashion or skip about. Each of the 10 chapters includes a few lines of text, an image, and a clear description of how to interact with the image, plus coaching should users make mistakes. Ambient sounds and a pulsating track enhances the experience and heightens the tension.
However, the story may be a hard one for children to grasp. It begins with a boy eating bricks, reveals a metaphorical castle inside the boy, which he floods with his tears, and includes a rather alarming section describing the boy’s heart growing so big that it becomes difficult for him to breathe. Translation of the story from the French original seems hurried; in the English language version incorrect grammar and misspelled words abound. (A Dutch versions is also available.)
The interactions on each screen vary in difficulty. On the opening screen, viewers must draw a rectangle quite precisely; a four-year-old test user was quickly frustrated, although able to successfully complete all the other tasks in the app. A nine-year-old was intrigued only by all the ways that the bricks could be drawn incorrectly so that the story could not continue, while a six-year-old managed all the tasks but did not connect them with the story.
Children may enjoy using this app a few times but it will not engage their interest for long.— Chris Gustafson, formerly of Whitman Middle School, Seattle School District, WA.
For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal’s dedicated app webpage.
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