Sometimes in the life of a reviewer an app or a book comes along that is so engaging that you forget that you are reviewing it and you just get drawn into playing. This is such an app, conceived and stunningly illustrated by Heidi Wittlinger and brought to you from goodbeans. Its own publicity does not do it justice – read on.
The app is comprised of three sing along songs, each with interactive elements. That’s the factual bit – actually, there are so many interactive elements to explore in each song that it will be a while before you will get round to singing anything. In London Bridge every kind of tourist passes by, in a pirate ship, in a bath, in a cab fully equipped with a periscope, on a London bus, on foot . . . you really have to get inside the scene to appreciate the intricate detail and laugh out loud humour of the images. Pretty much everything does something.
The gentle, elegant Evening Song will tug at your heart strings. It is accompanied by a night scene where the eerie northern lights paint changing colours in the sky, the stars explode into fireworks and a range of animals settle down for the night while Fox rides the cable car to the top of the mountain. Very subtle nudges are used to direct the reader towards the location of these interactions; several repetitions of the song are needed to explore such a smorgasbord of fun.
Old MacDonald snoozes under a tree as his animals take on whacky lives of their own. By careful searching, the reader can find out how to cycle the farm through the seasons, watching the donkey skate on the winter ice and helping the pig to take a bubble bath. Then just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, there’s Fox’s sound studio to explore. Everything, but everything, makes music, from the rhythmic knitting of Mother Fox to mice in tin cans, utensils, birds, frogs and dishes.
I could describe the value of the experience in terms of early music education. I could describe the meticulous design of the app, even down to the music when the credits are rolling. I could continue to wax eloquent. But words fail me. Really, you have to be there. So go there. Get the app.
Just one word of warning – hide the iPad from your children until you’ve had plenty of play time of your own. If you don’t, it may be many years before you see this app again.
Age range: 2 – 8
Educational value: singing skills; rhythm and beat; pitch distinction; timbre; texture; humour; imaginative image reading
Fun rating: 5/5 (and I wish it could be more)
Educational rating: 5/5