Blue Quoll is a Queensland company that publishes beautiful picture eBooks. Currently they have two Apps in the App store, both written by Lucia Mascuillo and Vincenzo Pignatelli and both offering a twist on familiar traditional tales.
Both Apps are universal and can be purchased for $1.99 from the iTunes App store
Mr Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes – We are all familiar with the “Little Red Riding Hood” story. The twist in this one involves Bingo, an entomologist, and a game of chess. (Hope I haven’t spoilt it for you!) It is very entertaining and made me laugh when I was reading it with my children. We still giggle at the same spots when we re-read it. The English narrator has a very entertaining style when she does the different voices. Download the Lite version to preview the App before you buy.
Puss in Boots – The Great Adventure – In this version, Puss is helping a budding musician, and the twist comes about because of a surprise relationship between Puss and the Ogre. I really love how this story ends. It has some very touching and some very funny scenes and your children will love it (and you will too.)
Beautiful illustrations – All of the illustrations are true works of art. Instead of simple garish cartoons found in many other picture ebooks, Blue Quoll eBooks are illustrated by professional artist Lucia Masciullo. See for yourself in this YouTube video:
Multilingual – Each of the books has are translated into several languages. Puss in Boots – The Great Adventure can be read in English, Italian, French, Spanish and German. Mr Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes can be read in English, Italian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French and Spanish. I don’t speak any language other than English, but I am assured that the translations are really good.
Quality Narration – The English narrator has a very expressive style with an Australian accent. The YouTube video below gives you a sample of the English, Italian and Chinese translations of Mr Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes.
Reading Modes – There are two modes for readers: Read it Myself and Read to Me. We’ve seen the latter in action in the video above. The text is read aloud as each page opens, and then children can explore the page before turning the page with a swipe. The Read it Myself option has no narration, however children can tap on text to have the page read. At this stage there is no option for individual words to be read aloud. Blue Quoll is considering adding a third option that would automatically turn the pages.
Interactive Elements – Little bubbles with text surprises pop up as different item son a page are tapped. Sometimes they might be sound effects, a caption for or description of an item (such as an extra tall hat) or they may reveal some amusing thoughts. These elements are not to distracting from the text and in some cases add to the story. When Mr Wolf pretends to be injured, you can read his thoughts about what a great actor he is, reinforcing what is happening in the text and in the illustrations.
Musical Background – A different musical theme plays in the background of each story. I find both of them very easy to listen to, but you can adjust the volume and even turn the music off if you prefer.
While biased towards Australian books, I can honestly say that these are two of the better ones in the iTunes store. It is obvious that quality is important to Blue Quoll. A feature I’d like to see would be the option to tap individual words and have them read aloud. The books are suitable for primary-aged children and are very reasonably priced.
A very encouraging thing about Blue Quoll is that they actively seek suggestions from their customers about what is or isn’t working in their Apps. One way they do this is through the Blue Quoll Facebook Group. If you have ideas about features you’d like to see in a Picture eBook, visit their Facebook group or website (see below) and give them some feedback. I’m excited about what the future may bring from this company.