148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Polk Street Press »

Goodnight Safari Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 6th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Goodnight Safari is a soothing and lovely app for iPad that allows children to interact with animals found in Africa’s Savannah, helping them with various bedtime routines, ultimately seeing that these animals go to sleep.

Six animals who need help from readers in performing nighttime activities are included, like helping a a young hippo take a bath or a monkey climb to bed, and I admire how each baby animal is being attended to by an adult animal - presumably their mom or dad.

The interactions are engaging but can also be challenging to understand exactly where to touch to trigger the animations, and it is potentially confusing that interactions must be played through multiple times to complete a task, allowing readers to continue to the next page, although older preschool ages children may really enjoy this aspect, making these interactions more involved than a simple tap or drag.

Help is available for those who need it, showing readers where to touch, but these hints are slow to be offered, and it would be nice if a mode were available where these hints were offered as soon as the page is turned for younger readers. Parents may want to familiarize themselves with this app before first showing this app to toddlers to expedite the experience at bedtime, but I do believe that this charming app could be their animal lover’s new favorite bedtime activity if help could be offered for young children to feel successful at these interactions.

Other subtle hotspots can be found on each page such as being able to shake distant trees or animate other animals. Do look for them.

The look of this app is wonderful, with lush textures and details that bring these animals as well as the Savannah to life. I appreciate how as one proceeds through these scenes, the sun starts to set and these landscapes darken with a lovely conclusion that has these animals sleeping together under a full moon and the sound of crickets filling the air, this pleasing sound to be heard throughout this app.

Very nice and relaxing narration is also included, and reading this app to oneself is also an option. A menu of pages is available - always a nice touch. My only note is that the baby zebra is hard to differentiate from the adult, as after the animation is triggered, it becomes obvious that the baby must run to its parent in the distance. Only then can the size difference be seen. I would love to see the baby noticeably smaller even before this interaction is triggered.

Children will enjoy helping their new animal friends get ready for bed, but with only six scenes, this app is a little on the short side.

For some parents, this is a perfect length as I am always looking to find shorter bedtime apps for when it is late and my son really needs to be getting to bed, but it may also be nice if a new more animals could be added in a future update.

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 21st, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong is a charming iPad application which truly brings the traditional song of the same name to life, as well as re-enforcing number sequencing along the way.

I do so very much love the look of this app, as each of the verses of this song is illustrated by wonderful illustrated scenes demonstrating each of these twelve days, such as Three French Hens or Five Golden Rings, complete with cute animated elements, lovely details and patterns adding to the richness and whimsy of lovingly crafted application.

I find the color palette used here quite pleasing, with warm muted colors alongside brighter color choices of many shades of green, turquoise and orange that I very fond of. The subtle shading and brush strokes used here add to this app's beauty and hand-painted quality that adults and children will enjoy, and I would feel privileged to be able to hang images from this app on the walls of my home.

The animals as well as the people incorporated within are simply adorable. I also greatly appreciate that the people found in such scenes such as the pipers piping, lords-a-leaping or drummers drumming include a variety of skin tones and hair textures which create a nice visual effect as well as a multi-cultural experience, something I would love to see more of in the U.S. iTunes store in general.

Two general sections are included, specifically Playalong and Singalong and I enjoy how this app opens up to 12 images, found in 6 squares - top and bottom - that represent each of the days included in this song - an important element in the Playalong section.

Here, children have an opportunity to learn about number sequencing as this app plays each verse and then pauses, allowing children to tap the number in descending sequence, starting with days 1 and 2, then asking the player to tap the number 1, as it is the start of the long trail of presents received on each day that build as the days go by, ultimately allowing young children to test their number recognition and sequencing skills counting back from day 12.

This app also allows children to record their own version of this song, including simply audio or video as well for iPad 2 users. Options include being accompanied by singing along words with the original recording or singing to an instrumental version by oneself.

The words in this section are not highlighted karaoke-style but are delivered line-by-line as one watches this song’s animation on the top half of the screen. I don’t think the lack of highlighting will make keeping in time with this song difficult since it is so well-known, and I like that one can sing along while being somewhat prompted by the singer to keep in time, or sing by oneself as the instrumental version is being played. Sharing one’s recordings via email or Facebook is made easy, and I also enjoy the fact that one can also watch this lovely illustrated song without making a recording.

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong is a great app for iPad for any family who enjoys singing or listening to traditional festive Christmas songs. The illustrations used are perfectly realized for this application, and I hope to see more from artist Lesley Breen Withrow in the future.