When Mia, my daughter, was 1 she she knew how to unlock the iPhone. When she was two she was quite confident where things are and what apps she likes most. Now that is three she knows exactly what she wants on her (errgh My!) iPad and iPhone. There is always CBeebies on BBC iPlayer and of course a wide range of PeppaPig and other similar games. Let’s be honest, when you child says “Can I have that one, pleeeasee”, its very hard to say no. The apps for the kids market is a buoyant one and it only takes a second in search to realise how many apps are out there. 99c apps are not a problem, it is the free ones you have to be careful of since they usually include ads (much easier to click on by a 3 year old than an adult) or a button that pops up from time to time asking you to upgrade offering the additional content. So, when I come across an app for kids that costs $5.99 it does make you wonder – how good can it be? Well, they can be pretty fantastic.
Nosy Crow is a reasonably new, independent company, publishing children’s books and apps. They proud themselves in publishing high-quality, commercial fiction and non-fiction books for children aged from 0 to 14 from both well-known authors and illustrators and new talent. The likes of Pip and Posy by Axel Scheffler (the author of The Gruffalo), only one of the titles from the extensive library of impeccable and beautifully illustrated books. They also like to make innovative apps for tablets, smart phones and other touchscreen devices. More importantly these apps are not existing books squashed onto phones, but instead are specially created to take advantage of the devices to tell stories and provide information to children in new and engaging ways.
“Pip and Posy” was the first I downloaded for my daughter some months ago. While the app benefits from the beautiful illustration it packs some pretty interesting and intriguing features such as colouring book, matching pairs, spot the difference, jigsaw and my favourite – ‘make a face’ which includes camera feed to mimic faces such as angry, surprised, happy, etc. Although I prefer capturing the screen rather than photo save function (captures only the camera image) it has provided a ton of fun for my daughter and I.
It’s only yesterday that I stumbled across “The Three Little Pigs” and “Cinderella” by loading Pip and Posy on my (her) iPhone 5. Not only are these beautifully illustrated by the very talented Ed Bryan but in addition they also utilise parallax using the built in accelerometer and gyroscope. This is (for me) the best yet utilisation of this technique since the movements are subtle and are able to transform the whole scene into three dimensions. These are not just layered assets but also animated and some objects even change size complementing further to the 3D illusion. Of course, these are accompanied by the children voices reading the story and there are hundreds of funny character comments and interactive surprises. Even more engaging are the special features such as blowing into the microphone to blow down the pig’s houses in the “The Three Little Pigs” and in “Cindarella” seeing the camera feed in the mirrors, dressing up the Stepsisters for the party or selecting music for the Prince and Cinderella and watch them hit the dance floor.
Both “The Three Little Pigs” and “Cinderella” a fantastic achievement in interactive story telling. If you have a young child, apps by Nosy Crow are a simple must. Likewise if you are an adult without a child and interested in the interactive medium as a whole, I recommend spending some time with these apps. They will provide an enriching insight into how traditional illustration, narration, animation and interactivity can beautifully come together to tell a story.