Finn’s Paper Hat HD is a magical and charming interactive app about a creative young boy who makes a hat out of newspaper and the imagination that is sparked as it begins to rain. Available in versions for both iPad and iPhone, this app includes an impressive selection of both Dutch as well as many English dialects and voices to choose from.
The use of fantasy found throughout this story remind me a great deal of the 1955 classic, Harold and the Purple Crayon, where a boy uses his crayon to draw objects that come to life making it possible for him to interact with them. Here, Finn folds himself a paper hat out of newspaper. First this hat is a pirate's hat but soon it rains and Finn turns his pirate's hat into a boat, sailing away on a simple yet epic adventure and meeting lovable creatures along the way as well, as finding other great uses for his paper hat.
I adore this ebook as I did the first title, Fierce Grey Mouse, from writer and illustrator Chantal Bourgonje. I was greatly impressed with the use of color used throughout Fierce Grey Mouse and I am equally impressed here with the interesting choice found within the pages of Finn’s Paper Hat to use muted tones of beige found among unadorned newspaper as well as mixing together samples of newsprint, creating a lovely collage feel as well.
The illustrations drawn with the use of black and white pop nicely from these desaturated backdrops in a way that I enjoy a great deal. One of my favorite moments here is when Finn finds himself in an ocean with his paper hat afloat among waves of different colors such the darker paper reminiscent of brown butcher paper as well as other lighter shades of paper at different levels of being off-white and weathered. This style is continued through the tale and I love the use of the main color, appropriate for the animals that Finns meets along the way. The pop of yellow also used for a simple sun in the sky made me smile as does the daydreams, found with a tap of Finn and his new best friend in one scene of this book which are the only elements in full color - a lovely touch.
I worry somewhat that my description of these color choices used may seem uninspiring, as this is far from the case. I greatly enjoy looking at this palette as well as the slight shadowing and distressing found within these pages and the text boxes found at the top left of each screen, adding texture and depth to these illustrations.
Interactions are included with this app adding to the richness of the experience, especially the use of creating snow when tapping the screen during the middle of this story as well, as the tapping of Finn and the other characters introduced in this story book.
Music is also included, which I have really enjoyed. It is sometimes upbeat but can be sleepy, if not a bit melancholy and I appreciate the use of composer Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette,” more commonly known as the theme from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in scene of this book and a favorite moment of mine as Finn uses his hat in another creative fashion that takes good care of his new buddy. The ending of the story also ends with a poetic, musical note that I may enjoy even more than my boy does. I love the use of this music within this storybook, adding music appreciation to the list of what makes this story very special.
Like with The Fierce Grey Mouse, Finn’s Paper Hat includes some nice extras. This app includes two coloring pages from the story, these pages to be filled in with the “paint bucket” method of coloring where one can fill in sections at a time with the tap of a finger - my preferred method of coloring books. Also included are clear and concise instructions to fold one’s very own paper hat as well as a Sing Along - Karaoke styled paper-hat-themed song complete with bouncing ball over the text of the song to keep the singer in time with the music. My only note here is that the sounds used over the music to also keep the singer in time is louder than it needs to be and drowns out the music, possibly the singer as well. It would be nice to be able control the volume of the music and this added sound, ideally independently from each other.
As with most ebooks, one can listen to narration or turn this function off to read this book by oneself. This app is no exception, but it is quite original to be offered many English dialects and voice choices such as Irish, UK, US, Australian and New Zealand, also including a child's voice and Dutch as a language choice as well.
I have enjoyed tapping each of these choices to hear the narrator speak their names, listening to the different ways of speaking, but I do wish their voice levels on the options page could be longer moments to hear them clearly against the joyful background of the music used as some of their names being spoken sound a bit cut off.
It is really nice to share different voices of this same story each time we read this book, slightly developing the ear of my boy to the sounds of different styles of English because where we live, most people sound the same and to my son “without” any discernible accent. A menu of pages is also added to this book - always a nice reference to offer.
My son really enjoys this story for all the adventure and fantasies it offers him, and we love to read it as a bedtime story. I am very impressed with both of Chantal Bourgonje's apps and have quickly become a fan of her work. I hope more original stories of hers are developed into apps, I can't wait to see them.