Little Critter Collection #1 is a wonderful universal app that, as the title may suggest, contains ten Little Creature applications which adapt previously published stories of the same titles.
Written by Mercer Mayer, a favorite children's book author from my childhood, I am thrilled that these Little Creature stories have been brought to life in these applications. Even if adults don’t know this series of books by name, the illustrations will be quite recognizable to many. Although not one specific animal, these stories are focus on the day in the life activities of highly anthropomorphic creatures which are a variety of small mammals that, to me, look like hamsters or guinea pigs.
The main character in these books is a little boy, known as Little Critter (later becoming an older brother), who tells these tales of growing up in the first person always in a way that is most identifiable to children, especially those of preschool age. I admire how these stories are written from the point-of-view of this young child, allowing children to deeply empathize with his trials and tribulations as a boy learning about his surroundings.
Titles such as I Was So Mad, When I Get Bigger, I Just Forgot and All By Myself do an excellent job of tackling complex emotions which are wonderfully expressed, making the Little Creature always relatable (although not always in the right) and allowing for wonderful open-ended conversations.
Just Me and My Mom, Just Grandma and Me, and Just for You explore the interpersonal relationships that Little Critter has with the people who love him best - his family.
The New Baby, Me Too and The New Potty are lovely stories about sibling love that are charming and tender as well as honest in their approach to emotions such as jealousy and patience - themes within these stories. They focus on Little Critter and his relationship with his baby sister as she becomes a member of the family, develops into a toddler who wants to do everything her brother does, and meets the universal milestone of potty training.
The illustrations of these stories are simply terrific, as I greatly admire the emotions expressed within the facial expressions of these characters, especially those of Little Critter’s mother as she sometimes has moments of disapproval when seen in the background of these illustrations that adults may appreciate even more than children do.
Like other Oceanhouse Media apps, these apps include narration as well as the ability to read these stories to oneself, and auto play is also an option.
It is worth noting that the narrator who chooses to speak for Little Critter does an excellent job, perfectly realized for this series of stories that could not be more spot-on in expressing the emotions Little Critter experiences, including frustration and even mild repulsion in a way that is pitch-perfect.
Oceanhouse universally does a great job of adapting printed books into apps, panning and zooming into the pages, and recreating the effect of one getting a closer look at the illustrations as this technique draws the attention of readers to specific areas that relate to moments being told within this story. Subtle yet effective sound effects are also at work here and are very nicely done, especially the baby sounds included within The New Baby.
Another element included within each story is the chance to find hidden animals on each page - a detail also found within the original stories themselves.
I honestly purchased the majority of these titles myself when they were first released so I know firsthand how much use my son has gotten from this series, and I am excited to make room on my phone as this app takes the place of the ten other books, with the Little Critter icon so eye-catching that my son's attention is drawn to it where he otherwise may not have paid attention to it a folder of these apps with such gusto.
I am really glad that Oceanhouse has chosen to create collections that one can purchase instead of developing a “reader” of sorts that creates a specific bookshelf of apps that one must buy within in-app purchases - something that not always a fan of as the main "reader" icon is often not eye-catching enough for my son to become interested in the apps within, and I worry about accidental purchases as well as my son desiring more apps that are basically advertised, as well as the lack of reviews on iTune for the in-app purchases one may be interested in.
Although I know first-hand how great this price is for ten of these apps, I can also appreciate how some families may not be able to purchase an app with such a price tag. Because of this, I am really glad to see that these apps as single purchases are still available for families who may want to add a specific story to their library, possibly without wanting to commit the time needed to download a free "reader" app to then make purchases through.
I have been very pleased to see the apps that the prolific developers from Oceanhouse Media have created based on popular books already in print. They have been on my “To Watch” list from their early days. I can’t wait to see what other titles will be next.