Tag Archives: E-book

Sassy Cassie – PicPocket Books

27 Mar

SassyCassieSassy Cassie, written and illustrated by Nancy PLA Schneider, is two stories for the price of one.  Cassie is an imaginative and creative little girl who loves to colour her world.  Despite having all the toys a child could wish, Cassie favourite toy is her mother’s makeup.  Cassie loves to use her and her friends’ faces as a canvas.  (I’m sure I’m not the only mother who can relate to this scenario!) Her increasingly exasperated mother manages to extract a series of promises from Cassie about not using her makeup, although it seems Cassie is an expert in finding loopholes in promises and rules, not unlike a child dear to my own heart. Katie eventually manages to find another interesting way to express herself creatively.

sassycassie1

At the end of the story, Sassy Cassie receives her very own art equipment in Color Mixing with Cassie.  She experiments with blending primary colours to make secondary colours, and plays with black and white to make shades and tints in her search for the perfect pink.  While I’ve seen apps that explore primary and secondary colours, I’ve never seen one that looks at shades and tints.  It would be useful to read this part of the story before art activities, and then have children see which colours they can make.
But wait:  there’s more!  In addition to a great story and an art lesson, the Color Fun Quiz section rounds off the app with a series of comprehension questions.  The question is written and narrated.  Tapping the Answer button will reveal the answer.

Features

  • Easy navigation – swipe pages to move through the story.  You can also swipe backwards to hear a page’s narration again.
  • Audio can be turned off
  • Text is highlighted as spoken.  This feature is supportive of emergent readers who are reading along with the narration.  This feature is only available in the main part of the story, but not available in the Color Mixing or Quiz sections.
  • Beautiful illustrations by PLA Schneider
  • Clear and expressive narration by Sylvie Ashford
  • Art lesson about mixing colours.  Cassie narrates as she experiments with colours, mixing primary colours, white and black to make secondary colours, tints and shades.
  • Quiz section

sassycassie2

Wish list

It would be useful for children to hear words spoken aloud as they are tapped.  I’d also love to see the highlighting of words as they are spoken extended to the second part of the story. Children with a hearing impairment, or those reading the story in noisy environments, may have difficulty hearing the answers in the Fun Color Quiz, so it would be great to see the answers also available in text and/or illustration.

Verdict

Sassy Cassie is a delightful app that gives you a funny story as well as a lesson in art.  Children will be amused by Cassie’s antics and inspired by her creativity.  Parents will be amazed by how Cassie’s mother manages to keep her composure when facing “trying” times with her precocious daughter.   An enjoyable and educational reading experience for all.

This review was originally published on The Appy Ladies blog.  The Appy Ladies are running  a giveaway of the iPad version of this app until April 04, 2013.  You can enter tbe Appy Ladies Rafflecopter Giveaway here.

Sassy Cassie HD - PicPocket Books

iPad version, requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price:  $2.99

Sassy Cassie - PicPocket Books
iPhone version.  Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price $1.99

 

Far To The North – PicPocket Books

25 Nov Far to the North by Gina Ricci - PicPocket Books cover image

Far to the North app iconI love reading stories to my children.  We read a couple of stories most nights, and we often read and explore eBook apps together at other times during the day.  The interactive elements of eBooks can add meaning to text and bring a lot to the reading experience.  Still, when you are trying to settle and calm your children, you might not want them tapping all over the screen.  At those times, you need a story that is simple with not much fuss.  Today I am reviewing an eBook app that fits this category, and is one my children have come to love.

Far to the North by Gina Ricci, is simple story about polar bears, and how they spend their day before settling down for the night.  The beautiful illustrations are enchanting, and the narration is clear and expressive.  The background music plays seamlessly through the app, and adds to the relaxing tone of the story.  Slideshow-like in operation, the only interactivity you will get is swiping to turn the pages.  There are some beautiful, subtle animations that form part of the illustrations, but there is nothing to be tapped or dragged on the pages.  The story is not Christmas-related, but it does seem to fit the whole “North Pole” theme that seems to be prevalent at this time of year. Continue reading

The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov

15 Sep

The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov App iconThe Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov (henceforth to be referred to in this post as Bobik) is difficult to describe.  The subtitle should be How could one bear get into so much trouble? This beautifully illustrated and charmingly narrated eBook definitely lives up to the name, as our Bear hero has adventures nearly on the scale of Ulysses’ adventures in  Homer’s Odyssey.  Just when you think the adventure has finished, off he goes in a completely different direction.  There are a lot of surprising things packed into the story, which spreads over 45 pages.

The illustrations are photographs and photo collages, many of with use household items as props.  It has the feel of those old movies that used claymation, stop-motion and very fake-looking puppetry for special effects in the days before CGI.  Kitsch is probably the most apt description, but I mean that as a compliment. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but Bobik, used to living the high life, experiences a fall in fortune and meets mermaids, dragons, wizards (to name but a few) as he journeys to find his place in life.

Bobik is bilingual, with both English and German languages available.  The English narration is delivered by a child actress with a very expressive and delightful British accent.  I can’t speak German, but I had a listen to the German narration and again found a rather expressive child narrating.  There is something lovely about hearing a book read so well by children and it serves as a good example to children on how to read with expression.  You can also choose to read it yourself.  In this mode there is no narration and no options to turn the narration on if the reader needs help.  I’d love an option to tap on individual words and hear them spoken aloud, as this supports readers who need help with the occasional word.  It might also help with the pronunciation of some of the more foreign words.

UPDATE FRIDAY MARCH 8TH 2013 – The latest version of Bobik has a new feature that is supportive of early readers.  Text is now highlighted as read.  I just love it when you buy an app and it just gets better.

What you won’t get in this eBook App is outside links that take your child out of the app and to places you don’t want them to go. There are  no social networking links, no in-app purchases, no advertising and no external links to websites.  I can’t help but love that.

Verdict

Some stories are good for learning to read and feature elements like rhyme, predictive text, and graded vocabulary.  Other books are meant to read for pleasure and can help kids get “hooked on books.”  This book fits into the latter category.  While many young readers might struggle with the text, Bobik is the perfect story to sit down and enjoy.  The narration, as mentioned above, is delightful and handy for children looking at the book by themselves, but I’d recommend turning off the narration, sitting down with your child on your lap, and reading the story aloud, which is the way my children prefer it.

But what do the experts say?  My younger boys (5 and 6) loved it and were in stitches of laughter as we read together. Master 8 really enjoyed it, and he is usually fairly critical of things (The mermaids don’t have tails – sorry, but they don’t, Mum, so they CAN’T be mermaids!)  My soon-to-be-ten twin daughters are now planning their own Bobik-inspired creation as a holiday project.  They are working on the plot and intend to borrow my camera (hmmmmm) and use one of our eBook-creation Apps such as Book Creator or Picturebook to publish and hopefully share with their friends. (They could also use Keynote or PowerPoint.)  In short, the experts in this house love the book, have re-read it several times already, and are inspired to create by it, so we rate it very highly.

Disclaimer:  Thanks to AppAble and JustKidsApps for this App as I won it in an AppAble giveaway.  AppAble is a great blog that features news and reviews about Apps, with a Special Needs focus. They have lots of App giveaways via online raffles, and I’ve won quite a few (to the point where I may need to put a “Sponsored by AppAble” graphic on my site!).  They also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AppAble

Publisher:  JustKidsApps
Price: $1.99
iPad only
The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov - JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann Barothy

Related Links

Making eBooks on your iPad:  10 ideas for Parents and Teachers (onsarahsipad.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/making-ebooks-on-your-ipad-10-ideas-for-parents-and-teachers/)

When The Wrong Book is the Right Book

15 Apr

New to the iTunes App Store (and also available for Android)  is The Wrong Book, written and illustrated by Nick Bland and given its electronic format by Wheelbarrow.  Though new to my iPad, this book has been a favourite in our home for a while.  So popular is it with my children that I can just about recite it backwards whilst standing on my head, and what could be more fun than that?  A couple of things, actually… Continue reading

iBigtoy Picture eBooks – a Cautionary Tale?

31 Mar

As promised, I’m starting a series of eBook App reviews.  I’ve already reviewed Susan Boynton’s Moo Media books published by Loud Crow, which are some of the best picture eBooks you’ll find, but today I’m going a little further back down the quality spectrum.   I’m actually starting with some that I just want to remove from my iPad because I really don’t like them.  They act as an example of why you can’t believe everything you read in an App’s description.  Doesn’t bode well, does it? I promise we’ll get back to the good things next post with good ones for the Easter break.

Are we sitting comfortably?  Let us begin……

iBig Toy has a LOT of eBooks available on the iTunes store.  It is difficult to rate this collection of Apps, except to say that there are a few adequate ones, and there are several that are so bad it is nearly funny. Continue reading

Evaluating Apps: How to pick a good story app

16 Mar

When I look at reading apps for my children, I have a number of criteria in mind.  It is difficult to get an app that meets every requirement, but having these points in mind can help you separate the good from the mediocre. Continue reading

Making illustrated eBooks the easy way with Picturebook

5 Feb

Picturebook is an App that allows children to create their own illustrated eBooks that can be shared with friends (who also have the Picturebook App).  It has a very simple interface so would be suitable for young children to use, but would also be useful for older students.  The app comes with a choice of two book covers and some basic clip art, but you can add extras with in-App purchases.  A school edition that includes all the extras is also available.  The App is universal, which means you can use it on both iPad and iPhone/iTouch devices.

Continue reading

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