February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

The King’s Ears | Touch and Go

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

If you’re looking  to discuss different approaches to storytelling, or what various media can add (or perhaps, subtract from a telling), here’s a book app to add to your list of titles to consider.  A trailer offers a peek.

Screen from The King’s Ears (Rascal Media) illus. by Phillipe Béhà

The King’s Ears  (Rascal Media, iOS, $3.99; K-Gr 2), a colorful production based on Katarina Jovanovic’s picture book, The King Has Goat Ears, illustrated by Phillipe Béhà (Tradewind, 2008), presents a lively retelling of a Slavic folktale about a king who keeps firing barbers because he’s ashamed of the secret they discover while cutting his hair: he has goat ears. A young boy answers his call for a new barber and tries his best to keep the king’s secret, which proves rather difficult. Ultimately an affirming story about self-acceptance, this app invites children and adults to share and discuss.

Vivid mixed-media illustrations, cheerful background music, and sound effects all add to the richness of the user experience. Like most children’s book apps, this one offers the choice to read independently or listen to a narrator read aloud. In this case, the narration by Welsh actor Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, is a treat for children and adults alike. Unlike most book apps, however, instead of offering that choice one time at the beginning, readers must tap a “sound” icon on each page to hear the narration. Also potentially confusing for frequent book app viewers, the swipe gesture is not used move from page to page; instead, users must press an arrow icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Despite these slight user interface oddities, children will want to revisit this book app over and over to discover more features and expand their enjoyment. Unobtrusive animated interactions include a parakeet that flaps and hops around the pages, and opportunities for viewers to take part in the story, such as helping a character pick up apples and put them in a basket. VERDICT With great appeal for the early elementary school audience, this app is a solid choice for digital storytime or reading one-on-one.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

Screen from The King’s Ears (Rascal Media) illus. by Phillipe Béhà

For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal‘s dedicated app webpage.


Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.
Facts Matter: Information Literacy for the Real World
Libraries and news organizations are joining forces in a variety of ways to promote news literacy, create innovative community programming, and help patrons/students identify misinformation. This online course will teach you how to partner with local news organizations to promote news literacy through a range of programs—including a citizen journalism hub at your library.


  1. Thank you very much for your thoughtful and generous review! I’d like to address your points about the sound and page turn buttons. We tested two versions of the app with three classes of grade twos in a middle-class Canadian neighbourhood of mixed ethnicities. One version of the app had swiping page turns and one had button page turns. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the children preferred the button page turns. One reason may be lack of familiarity with swiping page turns. Even though the press would have us believe that all children are glued to screens all the time, many of the children in my study had never played with a story app. Regarding the sound button, my testing of this feature was not only the three grade two classes, but two other schools as well. I found that fluent readers liked to read aloud to themselves before listening to the narration. Struggling readers tapped the narration button as soon as the screen opened. I liked the idea of giving the children more autonomy and choice over when and if they would listen to the narration. If you would like to read a paper I gave at a conference on my findings from this testing, you can see it here https://rascalmedia.com/the-kings-ears/classroom-testing/

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind