Dorothy the Rainbow Fairy by Integrated is a great science storybook.
Like most good digital storybooks, you can read the story yourself or let the book read it for you. It also has the typical interactive touch elements on all pages.
But it also has items I have not seen in other story books. Some of those interactive elements are modeled after pop-up or slider books. In most pages you can slide a virtual tab, or spin a virtual wheel.
The book is about fairies and rainbows. And if the book is correct, I might have learned a few things I didn’t know about the origins of rainbows. Overall a high quality and beautiful digital book.
Available in the Android App for Kindle, Google Play and the Apple App store. I received a free iOS version from the publisher. It works offline, and I didn’t see any in-app store.
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.
Shiny Circus by Shiny Things is an educational math app geared to children 2 to 5 years of age. It consists of a story about the circus and a set of math concept activities. The story part of the app is typical of a good interactive story book. The words of the story are highlighted as it is read and each page has interactive elements.
Although the story part of the app is extremely well executed, the math concept activities are extremely impressive. My daughter of 5 year old (apparently the top of the range) had a great time dressing the clowns, balancing the weights, and arranging the stairs. The only activity she didn’t like was the Angry Bird style game: she found the voice coaching too repetitive. What is really impressive is that she had no idea that she was learning new math concepts. Some of the concepts and activities are too advance for the lower age children, be ready to help them.
Overall the music, illustrations, the narrating voice (human) and the animations are all very well done. One of the best apps reviewed this year, and easily worth the price. If we had a sixth star, this app would get it.
I received the app for free from the publisher, and reviewed it on my iPad. The app is available in the Apple App Store, and I couldn’t find an Android version.
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.
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.
Zip-Zip’s 1st Vacation by Gregory Roumanis is a narrated story book for the Blackberry. Since most request we get here are to review iOS apps, I like receiving request for other platform (not that I dislike iOS apps).
I found it awkward that you had to click on an icon per page to have it narrated (usually the words are read as you flip the page). I also prefer if the words are highlighted as they are read (or at least the option to be able to do so). I have gone through the story a couple of times, and I am not sure why the bully gave up being a bully. Did he suddenly had a change of heart? The book is a great introduction to the topic of bullying for your young children. The book also has facts related to the insects in the story (a nice extra) with a link to the animal’s Wikipedia page.
Overall, a good story book for the Blackberry. Nice illustrations and sound effects. No in-app ads or in-app store. I look forward to other installments. I tested it (prompted by the publisher) on my Blackberry tablet. Available in the Blackberry Appworld for .99.
Gartu in the Kindergarten is a 20 mini-activities education app designed for children 2-6 years old. I won’t be able to describe all the activities but some of them are reading, matching, and item does not belong. Apparently the app is a fresh translation of an online app designed by a private school in Spain.
There are many things to like about the app, especially the ability to switch the language for all the activities. Language included are english, spanish, german, italian and french. The fact that everything in the game switches over when you switch the language is great. Everything from the story to the singing switches over to the selected language. The images are professionally illustrated, and the music and sounds are also well done.
The next part of the review is mostly subjective. Please feel free to skip it and grab the free version available in the Apple App Store and make your own conclusions. For the ones that kept reading, the application doesn’t respond appropriately to touches by little kids. For example, Gartu sings at the start of every activity. It doesn’t matter where your child touches, he/she would be forced to listen to the entire song before proceeding. Another example is in an activity where your child has to pick up garbage and bring it to the garbage basket. Again while the app is giving the child accolades, it is impossible to click on any other piece of garbage. The entire app feels old, cluttered and not responsive enough (like an app version of a Barney’s episode).
Overall a decent game. The multiple languages almost single handily makes this app a good buy for $1.99 (full version), and the fact that you can try it out for free should make it an easy download for parents that are trying to teach their kids multiple languages.
The app has no in-app store, advertisements and works offline. I reviewed the full version (provided by the publisher).
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.
Although children paper books continue to sell well (and in my opinion they will always have a place), electronics story books continue to get better and better. Miko Wants a Dog is an extremely well done storybook.
The illustrations are beautiful, the story is sweet and the book is narrated by human voices. The app has the usual options: you can read it, allow the app to read it, and allow the app to turn the pages itself. The book also highlights the words as they are being read. It also has some not so typical options. Using the illustrations of the book, you can write and narrate your own story. The app is a great tool to teach children about story creation.
As for dislikes, I don’t really have any. Like many apps I review, I wish they would publish these books on Android.
Miko Wants a Dog is priced at $1.99 in the Apple App Store. At $1.99 the Miko Wants a Dog is a bargain, the paper version of this book is a few times more expensive. The publisher is giving away a book a day for the month of March. I would highly recommend visiting the Facebook page and picking up the free book/app every day for the rest of the month. I reviewed it on a full size IPad, and downloaded it on the free day.
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.