Children’s books have sure come a long way since I was a tyke, and popular fairy tales are no exception.
(Non-electric dead tree version ca. 1951)
Not too long ago I gave Puss in BootsHD by Intech-Global a spin, reading it to my 4 year old son on my iPad 2. It was my son’s first foray into the realm of electronic book media.
Summary from Intech-Global:
Fairy tales are the best instrument for spiritual and moral development of a child. Fairy wisdom is simple, but at the same time rich and diverse. It gets into the child’s life and contributes to the formation of self-development and self-esteem. It is very important to explain to a child which character is good, and which one is bad, which character should be taken as an example, and which one should not. IPad application will help you in this task. Vivid illustrations help to create a visual representation of the heroes, and the possibility to set the characters in the movement develops the child’s imagination.Such old, kind, naive tales, as the works of Charles Perrault teach people to be more merciful and humane. “Puss in Boots” helps in the formation of the child’s worldview, teaches them to solve live problems and never give up.
That’s certainly one way to put it. Puss in Boots offers young readers an engaging, interactive means of reading one of the classics of children’s literature in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Chinese. As the product is indeed interactive, there are a number of things offered on different pages of the e-book, some more obvious than others. Each page offers animations and a background musical score.
On the first page, for example, the young son idly waves a stick, Puss (not) in Boots juggles an apple, the windmill arms turn, and so forth. Reading this story to my youngest, he was drawn to touch different parts of the screen and get a chuckle out of the animations. One oddity on the first page was that despite my choosing English as the language, the characters spoke what sounds like Russian to me. While I could tell which character was speaking, neither my son or I could make heads or tails of what he was saying. A better approach would be to have localized narration for the few speaking parts.
On each page there is a question mark graphic. Touching the graphic shows a brief “help” screen overlay showing what items are available for interaction as shown in the page above, just in case you feel you’ve missed something. Each page has the text superimposed over an image of parchment, with dropped Gothic red capitals to lend an antique air to the writing.
One of my son’s favorite pages was the cleverly done motorized (Baroqe Steampunk?) carriage page. By touching and sliding the header graphics the reader moves the carriage across numerous vistas while remaining on the same story page.
A nice feature of the book was a graphic dropdown via the omnipresent “Menu” button at the top of the page. In addition to audio and music level settings, users get a graphical representation of all the pages, which can be useful for impatient children wanting to go back to a particular page in a jiffy.
The story has one game area, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the game objective was, unless the objective was to be a simple numeric competition between parent in child.
On this page, white rabbits (no, not that story) and birds appear briefly in random locations, and tapping on them “captures” them and increases the score for the animal type. I’m not sure there’s an upper limit…I went past 100 for both, and it didn’t seem to matter if I captured more than one or the other.
The changeling ogre was fun too and the animation and sound effects for the changes was well done.
Tapping the character image triangle on the page changed the ogre into different forms, and the trick for Puss in Boots is to be “encouraged” to act at the right moment. This page did have a minor bug in that the page number at the bottom was missing.
This was a cute story to read to my 4 year old. He enjoyed dad reading to him and learning how to interact with the book and experiment with cause and effect, and he’ll occasionally twist my arm to read it to him and let him play around. There were a few minor rough spots, the most noticeable was the non-localized voice-over for a few parts, but as this was only on a couple of pages and not necessary for page or story completion it was not terrible but odd.
What I Like: Fun, interactive way to read a classic story with children; Good for kids to explore the story by themselves
What Needs Improvement: Localized audio for the few spoken parts; a few minor spellchecks (at least for English); quick game tutorial for capturing animals…maybe a short aside in the story itself to explain why they need to do this or what the objective might be.