Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Kindergartner and His Brother Check Out Nosy Crow's Three Little Pigs App

Nosy Crow, the year-old publisher out of the U.K. headed by Gruffalo editor Kate Wilson, has produced a lovely little app of the Three Little Pigs. I took it for a test-drive and found it delightful. So I decided to sit down with my kindergartner, Gabriel, to see if he agreed with my assessment.

"You can flip the wolf's van! Awesome!"

Not only did he enjoy it, but his eight-year-old brother couldn't help but horn in on the action as well. Despite being "too old" for picture books, big brother Nolan couldn't get enough of the Pigs.

The first thing I noticed about this app was the lush illustration by Edward Bryan. The colors are bold and bright without being overwhelming. The pigs are cute and childlike, each with a distinct visual personality that is reinforced through the text and sound effects. And the hairy, toothy Big Bad Wolf presents just the right amount of sinister.

This app is more in line with traditional picture books in its look and feel, rather than its more cartoonish cousins in the app store.

But enough from me. What did the kindergartner think? "I liked when the wolf's van chased them on the road and you could slow the wolf down. That was hilarious."

His favorite part of the app was flicking, tapping, and otherwise sproinging whatever he could find onscreen. "I liked that when you tap things and move things, they would actually move. And I liked when you lift the haystack and there's the bunny guy hiding."

This is the great advantage apps have over traditional books, and for many kids, it's a thrill. There's the joy of discovery and surprise. What happens if I tap that quiet spider tucked in the top corner over there? Watch it drop down out of the tree. What if I touch the whirligig on the roof? See it spin quietly in the wind. Nosy Crow shows restraint, adding little rewards here and there without letting young readers get too distracted from the story.

The Three Little Pigs is familiar ground even for preschoolers. But Nosy Crow gives it a fresh telling with a contemporary setting. Mama Pig is running the vacuum when the three little porcine siblings head out. And piggie No. 3 builds a terrific townhouse that would fit into my neighborhood.

Big brother Nolan commented a few times on the illustrations, trying to explain what made them special without knowing this app had "3D" in the title. I think the crispness of the images appealed to him. "The characters stood out, they sort of popped out. There was the background, and there was each figure. They looked like puppets in a theater -- like they could be on sticks or something."

Gabriel, the kindergartener, who is more the audience for an app like this than the third-grader, liked the sound effects and the use of children's voices for the narrator and characters. "It sounded cool when they speak. It wasn't usual grown-up voices."

And as a parent, what I enjoyed most was that my little guy would follow the text bubbles that popped up with different characters when tapped. He loved reading the dialogue aloud. And that, to me, is what it's all about. Simple features like these can be easily dismissed. But they are the building blocks to understanding the structure of a story. And for emerging readers, this is enormous. Not to mention what makes reading an app so much fun.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool -- this looks like a good one! Thanks for sharing.