Duh! Brazil by duhbooks

I always find it amazing the quality of e-books available at very affordable prices. Duh! Brazil by duhbooks is no exception. Pages filled with great information about Brazil. About its geography, people, fauna, history, and so much more. I loved the illustrations, the photos, and the interactive elements.

As far as dislike. In our house we frown on the use of the word “crazy”. Unfortunately this book uses it in the first page to discuss the enthusiasm of soccer fans. So many other words could have been used to convey this, it is unfortunate that “crazy” was used (but does offer a teaching moment).

The book is only available in the Apple store. I challenge you to find a book in your local or chain bookstore with this much content and information for $3.99, much less at the current price of free.

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd is a collection of interactive stories for deaf and hard of hearing children. The app and the first story are free. The app features an in-app store to buy other stories.

The stories are beautiful illustrated. As with most interactive books, the words are highlighted as they are read. Unlike all the story books that we have reviewed, in the lower left hand corner the words are signed by a real human ASL narrator. Some words in the story are under-lined. Clicking on these words makes the narrator show you how to sign those particular words. Like many brilliant concepts that look easy and obvious, I wonder why I didn’t come up with this idea first. You can even switch the words of the story to ASL gloss. The app also has a word dictionary where you can select words to be signed.

Overall a great concept and a great app. I believe 3 stories are currently available. And I hope that the app gets the recognition and sales it needs to continue to keep adding stories to the app shelves.

I reviewed the app and the free book on my iPad as prompted by the publisher. It is available in the Apple App Store. I couldn’t find an Android version.

Brave Rooney by Bacciz

Brave Ronney by Bacciz is a story about a little boy starting at a new school where he doesn’t feel as special as the other kids. It has all the usual features that make such apps entertaining.

As usual you have multiple options on how the book is read. Including being able to automatically flip the page, read out loud, show the words, and highlight the words as they are being read. The illustrations are unique and quirky. The pages are filled with interactive elements. The story is engaging and fun to read. The music is catching and not annoying even after reading it a couple of times. Overall very little to complain about. At $1.99 it would be hard to find a paper book as engaging and fun as this one.

The app has no advertising (other than on the last page promoting the companies services), no store, and works offline. I received a free copy from the publisher and tested it on my iPhone. I couldn’t find an Android version.

The Treehouse Express By ZuzusTheCat

The Treehouse Express by ZuzusTheCat is a activity/story book app. In the version that I reviewed only one story and one activity is available. But it seems that a second activity and a second story book are in the works (icons appear for both in the app).

The story book is about pirates stealing from each other (with an important lesson in the end). The illustrations (paintings) are quirky and beautiful. I loved the story, and the illustrations. The book is read out loud by a human voice and many of the pages have interactive items. I wish that all pages had interactive items, because my kids spent significant amount of time clicking on pages with none. I also didn’t like how the pages are turned. My daughter flipped the pages by accident on may occasions. The text is also not highlighted as the story is read.

The activity consists of three illustrated characters with swappable parts. All three of my kids loved this activity. I loved hearing their laughter as they swapped a girl arm for a bear arm.

The app is free. Even with all the little faults that I found, my children really enjoyed it. I even heard them laugh. An educational app that makes all three of my kids laugh out loud gets a 5 star rating every time.

The app is available in the Apple App store for Free. I couldn’t find an Android version. Works offline. No in app ads or store that I could find. I reviewed it (as prompted by the publisher) on my full size iPad.

puppup by Graymedia

I love electronics books and puppup by Graymedia is an excellent example of one. This particular story book follows the adventure of a loved stuffed animal that gets lost at the zoo, and the adventure that follows as he tries to get back to his family.

The story book is beautifully narrated by a human voice. The illustration are unique. The music and sounds are also well done. Although this is not obvious at first glance, most of the scenes include some sort of interactivity. Encourage your children to click around to see what they find.

As far as parts that I didn’t like. I wish the words would be highlighted as they are being read. Also the book is a bit too long for a typical four-year old. They could have easily done away with the introduction before the story, or have a way to jump ahead.

Overall I very good story book. Available only on the Apple App store for $3.99, I reviewed it on my full size iPad (app was provided for free). App does not have any in app adds or store, and works perfectly offline.

Alphabet Animals: A Slide-and-Peek Adventure by Auryn Apps

Alphabet Animals: A Slide-and Peek Adventure is yet another paper book to app translation from the people at Auryn Apps. Usually their paper books to app translations are great, and this one is no exception.

This time it is the app version of a book of the same title by Suse MacDonald. The book as well as the app consists of each letter of the alphabet being represented by a particular animal. A slide out card for the particular animal shows you the first letter of the animal.

In the app version you are able to jump to any letter by touching a letter. Both the letter and the animal name is beautifully spoken by a human voice when touched. The unique animals are beautifully illustrated. The music tends to get annoying after a while (for the adults), but can be turned off independently of the iPad.

Overall a great app. The app is available on the IOS store for $1.99 (a bargain compared to the paper version). I tested it on a full size iPad. It has no in-app store, works offline, and no in-app advertisement.

Kids’ Vocab by MindSnacks

Kids’ Vocab by MindSnacks is a vocabulary builder educational apps. It does this by using varied and multiple games that re-enforce the meaning, usage and spelling of the words.

There is a lot here to like. The animations, illustrations, music and sound effects are all extremely well done. The games are challenging and fun. Many of the games are addictive and frantic (this might be stressful or frustrating for very small kids). For kids or schools that share devices, the app supports multiple logins. A feature that I wish more educational apps would have. You can also keep track of the child’s progress. The publisher also claims that the instructions are mapped to the core language arts standards (didn’t verify this).

I think it is fantastic educational app with enough varied content to keep children entertained while educating them. It will also be a great addition to a home school curriculum.

I played the free version of the app (as prompted by the publisher) on my https://itunes.apple.com/be/app/kids-vocab-mindsnacks/id582128594?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2&buffer_share=74eeb&utm_source=buffer. You can buy all 25 lessons for $4.99 from within the app. No Android version exists (that I could find). The app works offline and doesn’t have any advertising (the free app version does have a button to upgrade).

StorySmith: Medieval Kingdom HD by Brytag Creative

StorySmith: Medieval Kingdom is a story building app for the IOS devices. The setting for this education app is Medieval times (plus pirates). You select the scene, place characters where your want them and then enter the text for the scene. Repeat this process over and over until you end up with a story.

The illustrations are beautiful. They give a great framework for story telling. Entering story text is straight forward. In the last update a beach scene plus a few pirate items were added (who doesn’t like pirates). The app would also be a great addition to a story writing education unit.

Very few things to complain about. Younger kids will need help writing the story. I would love more scenes especially about pirates or completely new pirate app. It does not have any sound, but that is expected since it is a story book writing app.

I tested it on my full size iPad (app was provided for free by the publisher). It is available for IOS devices on the Apple Store. I couldn’t find an Android version. It doesn’t have an in-app store, doesn’t need internet access, and it has no advertisements.

Smart 4 Kids by Isabelle Duston

Smart 4 Kids is an educational reading app, that uses phonics as the main method for teaching kids how to read. Each unit is divided in three. The first part of the unit is a phonics lesson of the particular sound/sounds that is being emphasized in the unit. The second part of a unit is a game where your child can practice what he just learned. And finally the unit ends with a short story that emphasizes the key elements of the unites while reading the story. In addition to the units, there is a library of books that are read beautifully by a human voice.

As stated before the human voice reading the book is great. The illustrations and sounds are also very well done, the library that consists of international heroes stories is genius, and the first 6 units are free. Enough content to play through them and decide if you wish to buy the rest.

So what isn’t there to love. The app concept is great. The execution on the other hand is not. Some of the games don’t behave as you would expect: in certain games you are able to continue clicking even after selecting the appropriate letters, while one of the stories is being read you are able to select part of the screen and end up with an annoying blue dot for the rest of it, and how to flip the page isn’t clear or intuitive.

As far as education apps Smart 4 Kids is a good educational app. I highly recommended that you download the free version and give the first 6 unites a try (if you are into Phonics). I tested the free version available in the Apple App Store on my iPhone (as prompted by the publisher). No Android version exists.

I love you Little Bird by Jennaya Monroe

I have reviewed many interactive story books on Smart Kids Apps, but this is the first one that the book doesn’t take up the entire screen of the iPad. Instead there is a border.

I Love You Little Bird by Jennaya Monroe is beautiful. The story is heartwarming and the illustrations are very well down. As many of these interactive books, you can have the book read to you or read the book yourself. I love that a clear human voice reads the book.

Many of the scenes have interactive elements. For example you can help build a nest or play in the mud.

As for gripes: I don’t like the border and the resulting small area that is left for the book. I felt it distracted from the story telling, and cheapened the feel of the book. I wish the app would highlight the words as they were being read. And I didn’t like that I couldn’t click on the URL to buy the physical book.

Overall a great book, a great story and an outstanding bargain (at $.99 it will be impossible to find a physical book of this quality). Although I had issues with the book presentation: the story telling, the voice reading it, the interactive elements and the illustrations easily make up for these deficiencies.

I reviewed the iPad version (provided for free by the publisher). An Android version also exist on the Play Store.