Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Lonely Beast ABC

The Lonely Beast - by Chris Judge 

A is for Ace

I’ve downloaded a lot of alphabet apps. By and large they’re functional but not much fun, and they certainly aren’t very easy on the eye - it’s as though all the muppets from Sesame Street have been bumped off and replaced by clip-art counterparts. Here, however, is something quite different. Picture book creator Chris Judge’s lovable Lonely Beast may be a hulking black mass with blinking yellow eyes, but his alphabet app is a thing of great beauty.

In effect, here are 26 beautifully illustrated picture book spreads that you can interact with. At least that’s how it feels. The app has been so well designed and crafted you can feel the picture book maker behind it, and that’s what makes it such a delight.

The Lovely Beast ABC has everything you’d expect and want from an alphabet game: clear letters (in a gorgeous typeface - big bonus), good examples of words that begin with those letters, the ability to tap the letter or word and hear it spoken as often as you need. But - here’s the extra special bit, I think - the scenes are so memorable that you can carry on playing and learning off-screen. Ask your child what happened when the Beast opened his (U)mbrella, or when he was on the (I)sland, for example. They won’t forget in a hurry because it’s so visually arresting and so much fun.

The colours are gorgeous, the art direction flawless, even the sound effects have been chosen with great humour (listen out for the horn exchange as the Beast drives off screen in his white van). I’d gladly pay more for an app of this quality. You want value? It essentially has a xylophone app thrown in, and a stress relief app in the form of ‘L is for Light’! (I guarantee you will click that switch at least twenty times in a row, it’s just so darned satisfying).

  • Robot disco dancing!
  • Home made farty elephant trunk 
  • The Beast as a white van driver

I urge you to ditch all other alphabet apps with their nasty cartoon critters. B is for Beast, and this one’s a keeper.

THANK YOU to @MicheRobinson 
for this wonderful review - TOOT TOOT
Find out more about Children's Author Michelle Robinson by visiting her website

Three cheers for Michelle, one of my all time fave mustachioed gals!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tiger-Pig at the Circus by John Ryan - A Me Books production

Me Books is an exciting treasure trove of an app where modern classics and old-time favourites from the picture book world rub shoulders in a virtu-maginary bookcase that any child would be proud to own. The extra bit of magic that Me Books sprinkles on top is the ability to record your own audio in place of the default narration and hotspots - perfect for a parent who has to travel but still wants to read the bedtime story, or the child who wants to practice their reading or performance skills. Not only that, but the app has an intuitive interface to create new hotspots of your own, allowing you to really make the book your own.

Those brilliant folks at Me Books have just sent one of their latest releases over to the App Puppy garage, their take on the classic "Tiger Pig" by Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan. This is a timeless story of a little pig setting out to explore the world and meeting and overcoming prejudice on the way.

Let's hear from them how they picked this forgotten classic for the Me Books treatment:

'Tiger-pig at the Circus is my favourite picture book ever. It's a story about being different and as I'm the only redhead in a large family it must have struck a chord. I'm sure my poor mother read me that book 100 times! The fact that it's now a Me Book is in no small part thanks to James, our MD, who knew of my fondness for Tiger-pig and got in touch with John Ryans daughter, Isabel, who has been a great help in bringing this wonderful book to a new audience.'

- Mike Outlaw, Creative Director at Made in Me

The narration of the text is really first class and top notch, but for me, what sets it apart is the sheer volume of non-text hotspots to click on every page - every ship passenger, tiger pig and circus animal has a little bit of improvisation to share. The overall experience is like having a story read to you by the funniest uncle you've ever had.

Here's the App Puppy top five hotspots to hunt out:

1. Juggly pig
2. The confident sealion
3. Parasol wielding clown
4. The tiger calling security
5. The lioness being won over at the end

The AppPuppy says: "a long lost favourite carefully and lovingly transformed into a Me Book which stands up proud with even the most popular picture books of modern times. 
5 stars, one to be treasured"

With thanks to Me Books and Made In Me

Find out more here 

Visit the MeBooks website here to ogle their wonderful array of picture book apps!

Follow them on Twitter at @me_books AND @hello_madeinme

In addition to my review I managed to share the joy of this app with my dear chum Libs the Bichon Frise!

Here is her review ...

If you haven¹t come across Me Books before, I¹ll just give
you a run-down of their digital doings: the free app is a little
bookshop/library, to buy and store picture books that really are that ­flat pages, without animation, so it¹s similar to reading a normal book.

Then things get a dash of digital sparkle when you start experimenting with the touchscreen hotspots ­ touch the text to have the story read to you, or touch the illustration to hear what is going on there. You can also take things a
step further, deleting their hotspots and recording your own version. The instructions only took a minute to read, and even my pudgy paws could work the hotspots ­ easy-peasy stuff.

So, what does all this mean for Tiger Pig at the Circus? John Ryan,creator of Captain Pugwash,wrote and illustrated the original book in 1978, and it¹s now out of print. Hanging
my head, I have to admit I hadn¹t come across it before. Tiger Pig himself is a stand-out character (for his name along, surely?), discovering what it means to
be different, but also special. The story does begin in a slightly Basil Exposition style, really hammering home the moral, but as soon as the tale starts to unfold it is a brilliant kaleidoscope of circus animals and excitement.
After watching all the other animals perform, then being told he doesn¹t fit in with them, he wins everyone over by being able to do every act fantastically.

And the clever team at Me Books have also added a special
extra element ­ the narration of the story is lovely, the the hilarious comments that you can explore in the illustrations that really got me chuckling. (My favourite being, ³Ah, look at me! I¹m juggling ­I¹m a juggly-pig!²)

The highlight, quite rightly, of this technology are the
large-scale illustrations, where I spent ages exploring on the
touch-screen and chuckling over the opinions of the different characters. A perfect way to reintroduce this forgotten gem.