I recently entered an app-tacular competition on @maybeswabey ‘s “ubercucumbercool” blog which reviews picture book apps, The App Puppy.
All you need to do to enter the competition is write about what picture book you would like to see made into an app. Go on, have a go, there’s a great prize.
I have a mix of games & book apps suitable for Bryn which he really enjoys playing. My observation on the more successful book ones are when there are things to do within the story, such as putting the dirty dishes in the sink in Nosy Crow’s Cinderella; touching the text for the words to be read out as in Sir Charlie Stinky Socks Big Adventure; or an element of surprise like when the cow turn into a dragon in Mindshapes’ Jack & the Beanstalk. Armed with this small amount of experience I found myself thinking of how a few of our favourite reads could become favourite apps.
Monkey & Me by Emily Gravett
I think this would make a great app, with it’s fabulous illustrations & melodic refrain. It would be fun to animate the girl so you can see her mimic the animals. The camera could be used to record the child reading making animal noises. I think the pages showing the animals could have a feature where you can choose to see real life footage of animals. It might also be fun to have a range of tights for the main character from stripy to spotty. A special bonus would be a drawing masterclass from the author, something similar to the ‘How To Draw…’ Guardian videos.
Don’t Put your Pants on Your Head Fred! by Caryl Hart & illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson
We got this book about a month ago & it’s a fun read. Luckily the authors website has a few activities which provided ideas of what could be included in an app such as dressing Fred or the Queen. The book features many pants, so I thought a fun game would be to try & spot a certain number on each page or perhaps click on them to send them flying round the page. I love the collage style illustration in the book so another activity could be to collect stuff throughout the app: flowers, sequins, bubble wrap, etc. in order to create your own Fred using collage at the end.
Traction Man by Mini Grey
This series of books has a cinematic feel which would be great for an app. Whenever I read them aloud I think they could benefit from some atmospheric music to set the mood, which an app could do. It has a comic strip layout which would work well in an app as you could touch the main characters for a speech bubble to appear. Extra features could include a ‘create your own Traction Man’ adventure with preset panels & stock images of the main characters or a design your own pet sidekick like Scrubbing Brush.
Freya started weaning last month around the time I borrowed Noodle Loves To Eat. This is a colourful touch and feel board book with interesting textures to explore & beautifully cute illustrations. In general Freya preferred to eat the book (a common occurrence) but there were moments when I did manage to wrestle it from her mouth and show her the sweet characters, get her to feel the shiny cheese, sticky fruit etc and it became a fun book to share, especially the mirror at the end where she could give herself kisses.
Over the last few weeks Bryn has been playing on 3 ebook apps for the iPad all have been very succesful in keeping him entertained & enthralled.
Goodnight by Sandra Boynton – this has the same text as the print book but with lots of interactive elements. The book & subsequently the app I think are probably too young for Bryn in terms of content, simple text & story. It does however include lovely features such as turning the tap on a page so the screen looks like it’s steamed up. I think this is a great use of the tablet & helps make the book more immersive.
Three Little Pigs by Nosy Crow – this app is a complete delight with its quirky & engaging illustrations & characters. The pigs & wolf are developed enough to provide some real personality to the story. So far out of the three apps this has been the most successful in terms keeping Bryn entertained for a time. One if his favourite interactive elements is blowing in the mic to make the wolf blow the house down – the downside is that he often doesn’t have enough puff or is not positioning himself over the microphone effectively enough. As it’s such a well established story for Bryn he is really comfortable navigating through it which allows him to engage with the interactive elements without it detracting from the story. I also think he likes the control over the characters, in terms of choosing when they speak. One day while playing with this app he declared he would like to pick up the wolf & throw him out of the story – what a different tale that would be.
Three Little Pigs
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore – this app is where film meets book. It has stunningly beautiful animation and some very intelligent charming interactive features. One of Bryn’s favourite pages is touching the grey sky to turns blue – while playing this in the car during a long drive through the rain we both would have loved the chance to paint the real sky blue. One of my favourite pages is when 3 of the characters in the story change to reflect the book they are given, I just wish there were more titles. I really enjoy this app as I love the animation and that it is centered around books, stories and characters. It is however a little buggy and a some of the interaction is currently a little too subtle for Bryn, but something I think he will grow into to.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
In general using these book apps with Bryn reminds me of reading ‘lift the flap’ type books, as often Bryn is keen to pull, lift etc on the page and this distracts from the story however it does not detract from his love of books. While he enjoys this level of distraction he also equally enjoys having print books and stories read to him. I think there is a real value in having so many routes to exploring stories, characters, themes etc. I also think there is much more to come with feature rich ebooks and we definately have room for both print and online books in our home.