The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories - Dr. Seuss - is a wonderful anthology of stories originally published in magazines during the 1950’s and which have been rediscovered and recently published as a book title of the same name. It has also become an important universal app - a necessary addition to the library of any age fan of Dr. Seuss.
Seven stories are included, each full of the wondrous Dr. Seuss style of imaginative anthropomorphic characters, beautifully odd illustrations, and fantastical rhyming prose that Seuss is known for. I have decided not to synopsize each of these stories as I don’t want to rob readers of truly experiencing these stories for the first time, but this information is provided in this app's iTunes description if one is interested. I can say, however, that it is great fun to see some ideas used here re-worked into later stories, and it is good to know that these tales do each contain a narrative plot line - my favorite style of Seuss.
This app works the way the other Dr. Seuss apps from Oceanhouse Media do, offering readers the chance to read this book themselves, with narration or on auto play, which includes narration, but with pages that turn on their own - great for young children and even for putting the phone down and just listening to these magical stories. As this is a compilation of stories, first select a story with a tap as icons representing these tales are displayed on the title page of this app, and from here one can choose the reading style of interest. It is also nice that this app will save one’s space in a story, making it easy to pick up where one left off easily if the tale is not finished within one sitting.
We are fans of Dr. Seuss in our house, owning many of these apps based on classic Dr. Seuss books and short stories. I am always impressed with their use of the “Ken Burns effect" of panning and zooming the original artwork, bringing readers closer to specific details that highlight moments of these stories and the breaking down large pages of text into shorter verses that aid in the reading out loud of these stories.
Another aspect that Oceanhouse Media apps do well is giving users a chance to tap objects within these pages to both see and hear these items being highlighted, with a lovely style which thoughtfully does not speak over narration, and it is fun that when reading these stories to themselves, this interactive element still applies - nice touches that I appreciate.
It is also interesting how one can tap a single word or an entire paragraph to be read out loud - a very nice feature that also works when the narration is turned off, giving the reader help with word pronunciation or even tapping word-for-word for listening and developing a sense of sentence structure. I greatly enjoy as well the ambient noises and sound effects used within these stories, bringing a richness to these tales that is subtle yet extremely effective.
Readers of this specific app, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories - Dr. Seuss - will enjoy the narration included as these tales are read by four very good professional voice actors as they each have a personal style that added to the story that is being narrated.
For me, the standout here is the narration by John Bell, who here reads The Bippolo Seed and Steak For Supper, as well as other Seuss books by Oceanhouse Media.
Bell has the perfect radio voice and his narrative abilities here remind me of a great Shakespearean actor who can recite lines of Shakespeare using subtle pauses and intonations in a way that makes these lines of dialogue utterly understandable and relatable - no small feat, to say the least.
Here, Bell has a knack for reading Seuss in a way that I find most engaging and comprehensible in a deeper sense than when I hear these stories read by other narrators, or when I try to read these stories out loud myself. I can also see my son most fascinated by Bell's narration, sitting up and taking in what he is listening to, mouth slightly open as he is enamored by what he is hearing. Bell’s choices for these character voices hit all the right notes and bring an important sense of emotion that I greatly enjoy, flushing out the great imagery created by Dr. Seuss, especially with The Bippolo Seed, sometimes wonderfully taking on tangents beyond the corresponding illustrations.
It is a selfish request of mine that I ask developers reading this review to consider John Bell for their next voiceover project as his voice talent is so great that I have bought apps based solely on his included narration and will continue to do so. I have also enjoyed his voice acting in the iPad eBook, Melvin Says There’s Monsters, also reviewed on GiggleApps.
I highly recommend this app to any fan of Dr Seuss for any age - from the very young to adult - as they are important works of early Dr. Seuss and I am super-excited that these stories have been re-discovered.