Don’t Open Before Christmas is a wonderful interactive storybook for iPad, a cautionary tale about the chaos that ensues if children open their Christmas gifts too early.

I was super excited to review this application when I realized it was from Crab Hill Press – the same developer of Nash Smasher, another favorite storybook of mine with a great sense of style and humor.

The same can be said for Don’t Open Before Christmas which includes terrific illustrations, bright and colorful, with a look to them that is both a nod to both a vintage drawings as well as the animated work of Genndy Tartakovsky seen in shows like The Power Full Girls or Dexter’s Laboratory.

I do greatly enjoy this perfectly realized story about a boy who is left home with his Christmas presents. Although he is asked not to, he can’t resist opening them to take a peek, and finds out the hard way that the toys, like eggs, need time to hatch properly or things will become quite discombobulated.

Fun interactive hotspots are found on each page as well as tabs one pulls or dials one rotates, each in its way creating a detail that is utterly tactile, may deliver extra lines of text and narration, animated moments, sound effects or other nuances that add to the overall style of this app, creating a really fun dichotomy of vintage popup slider book with the technology of applications.

There is a lot going on in Don’t Open Before Christmas in terms of slapstick humor as the boy tries to get the toys back into their boxes. I really enjoy all the sights and sounds from the home of this boy as it becomes quite destroyed in the process while maintaining a good, tight story – a detail that is often overlooked in other interactive story applications.

I was also really pleased to see that a subtle message is also included about patience, as the main character is now OK with waiting for his toys as his parents make him wait extra time to open them because he first unwrapped them early – a nice moment about consequences that I appreciate a great deal.

The included narration is also pitch-perfect, clear and engaging to listen to, yet can also be silenced if one wishes to read this story out loud to themselves.

There is nothing I would change about Don’t Open Before Christmas, as this is a very creative and unique story based on an identifiable desire to open presents before their time – a great seasonal app especially as parents now may have bought and need to store presents before the holidays a few weeks away.

I highly recommend this app to all families who have an iPad, as this is a tale that can be enjoyed by toddlers and up through grade school, with narration that reminds me of The Christmas Story, high praise to be sure.

For those interested, I also greatly recommend Nash Smashed also by Crab Tree Press which includes the same sense of style, terrific story telling and interactions, as well as a teachable moment that I did not expect from this silly children’s app. Do look for more details about Nash Smasher in iTunes if interested.

I have enjoyed these two apps immensely and I hope to see more interactive storybooks from Crab Hill Press in the future.

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