Nominated by: Darned Sock
Angus the Irritable Bull is a charming storybook app that will appeal to preschoolers and early elementary students. It tells the story of Angus, a bull with a reputation for being very grumpy. Everyone on the farm, including the farmer, gives Angus plenty of space to avoid annoying the already irritable bull. However, when a bird lands on Angus’s back and plucks out a sharp thorn, Angus goes from grumpy to delighted.
This simple story is paired with colorful artwork, clear narration that can be turned on or off, and amazing interactive features that do not overwhelm the story. Children will delight exploring this app. Every page has a new interactive element. With a tap of their fingers, children can make daisies bloom, Angus huff, or even change the color of a butterfly that flutters through a few pages. The final page of the app shows Angus with numerous birds on his back. When tapped, each bird makes a different sound including a door bell, percussion instruments, and an ambulance. With so many surprises on each page, this app is very fun.
Nominated by: Perogyo
Fiona, bored, is sitting on her stoop on a thickly foggy day in San Francisco when the fog notes her boredom and invites her to play a game called “Find Your Scarf.” Then the fog reaches out and snatches her scarf, compelling Fiona to chase (or rather, seek–as it’s gone before she can see which direction it went in) after it in what becomes a breathtaking journey through the city’s natural spaces.
She heads toward the beach, the forest, the pier, and many other places, meeting new creatures and finding new treasures such as bike tires, caps sneakers — but no scarf. At the top of a tower, she sees a rope ladder into the clouds, and looking more closely, sees that the ladder is made of things snatched by the fog. At the top of the ladder, the fog shows her the magnificent view, and Fiona forgets about her scarf, realizing that the experience of seeking it has been of more value–at which point the fog returns her scarf.
The story is strong, but it’s the beauty and design of the app that truly shines. With Fiona & the Fog, writer and designer William Poor has created a new kind of picture book app. Since their advent, we’ve tended to think of picture book apps mainly in terms of interaction, as though that were the only new capability that digital has to offer. Interaction hunters will not find them in Fiona beyond “page”-turning. While Fiona and the animals are sketched creations, each page of the app–each landscape Fiona moves through–is a cinemagraph, an alive-feeling photograph. The fog rolls, the waves lap, the ladder sways, but not in choppy “once and then it’s done” or “every time you tap it” ways. The whole book seems to breathe, and invite the reader to inhabit it as fully as Fiona does. Coupled with a soft, subtle, dreamy soundtrack, the effect is incredibly atmospheric, and the time-honored experience of disappearing into a book is made new.
Fox & Sheep GmbH
Nominated by: Matthew C. Winner
Get ready to fall in love with another Chris Haughton character – but this time as you play hide and seek, dance along or talk on the phone with Hat Monkey in this wonderfully colorful and highly engaging book app. Hat Monkey is a lovable character who just wants someone to play with him. Kids will adore seeing what Hat Monkey is up to and will want to go back again and again for more giggles. This book app gives young readers an opportunity to experience how a character comes to life in a book app that allows them to navigate between scenes and to interact with this charming character. Readers also get a sneak peak at Chris Haughton’s bestselling books Oh No, George!, A Bit Lost, and Shh! We Have a Plan.
Nominated by: Stephanie Charlefour
The best book apps for early readers are a careful balance of well-written story on a high interest topic, compelling narration, text highlighting, vivid artwork and imaginative interactivity that relates to or furthers the story. Oceanhouse Media has crafted the perfect recipe with its adaptation of the Melinda Long-written, David Shannon-illustrated print title How I Became a Pirate. Oceanhouse’s foray beyond their Dr. Seuss roots is a welcome departure as pirates are to preschoolers what angst-ridden vampire romances and dystopian love stories are to preteens.
Shannon’s big headed pirates are highly expressive and their faces perfectly convey the camaraderie shared by the band of pirates Jeremy Jacobs encounters when the motley crew rows ashore at North Beach one afternoon. Jeremy gets to experience the joys of bad manners, poor hygiene and nobody telling him what to do during a fun day as a pirate. A storm and unfamiliar bedtime routine are less appealing and ultimately Jeremy decides the life of a pirate isn’t for him. The app improves upon the story with a choice of narration or independent reading with text assist as well as the bonus of recording your own narration. This app is among the best examples of print adaptations.
Nominated by: Jen Vincent
Incredible Numbers is a celebration of math. This innovative app by Professor Ian Stewart makes mathematical concepts interesting — even for people who are nervous about numbers. Incredible Numbers has eight sections: Factorials, Infinity, Music, Nature, Pi, Polygons, Primes, Secret Codes. Each topic is divided into sub-sections, which provide readers with in-depth information about the topic. Information is accessibly written and is accompanied with engaging activities that enhance one’s knowledge about the concept. There are many interactive features that allow users to learn more about specific numbers. Plus, there are 15 interactive puzzles and word problems, which explore a variety of concepts. The app is colorful and easy to navigate. Best for ages 14+.
Nominated by: jennie_b.
Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats quickly became a favorite of my third grade students, and my three oldest kids at home (4, 6, and 7 years old). This interactive app is narrated by Kalley and her dad. In each page they describe to us part of a machine that Kalley has designed. The machine includes things like cranks, levers, dials, bashers and more. Most of the 13 pages of this app include fun interactive features where kids can adjust how the machine works. Kids will love adjusting the speed the machine bashes and they will love using the puffer to make things bigger. All kinds of fun to be had.
The app will get kids creative juices flowing long after they finish reading and interacting with the app. Readers will find a bonus at the end of the app explaining how Kalley came up with the idea for her amazing machine.
We Are Wheelbarrow PTY LTD
Nominated by: Charlotte
“This is what I learned last summer:” The first line of the Rules of Summer will captivate readers and take them along on an exciting and sometimes eerie adventure. In the first illustration of the app based on Shaun Tan’s picture book, a single crow sits on a telephone wire in an industrial area of the city as a boy whispers to another boy. With each swipe of the page a rule is revealed. “Never drop your jar.” “Never leave the back door open overnight.” “Never be late for a parade.” With a tap of the icon over the rule, a new illustration appears. Children will linger over the pages of Tan’s imaginative acrylic and oil paintings that reveal the consequences for breaking each rule. Pinch and pull to zoom in and out of the illustrations to reveal surprises such as a giant rabbit stalking the boys or a parade of robot animals.
Somber tones and wide brush strokes help set the mood of this dark story as ominous flocks of crows take over the sky. Sound effects such as the hammering of metal, glass clinking and the wind from an impending tornado add to the dark ambiance of the story. With each broken rule, the two boys are led farther from the city into the wastelands. Just when the story borders on scary, the final page shows the two boys eating popcorn in the glow of a television with kid-friendly drawings of the creatures taped to the wall behind them. Themes of imagination, defying authority and the innocence of childhood coupled with Tan’s stunning illustrations make this an app that will resonate with middle grade readers.