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Category: High School + »

Safari Party

Posted by Sarah Reidy on March 15th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Safari Party, developed by PIXOWL, Inc., is a universal puzzle/arcade app featuring cartoon animals and people drawn by a well-known French cartoonist and blogger, Laurel. To clear each level, players must move the animal icons around the screen to make groups of four. Once groups of four are formed, players may tap the groups to make them break up and disappear (think Bejewled Blitz). A certain number of animal groups must be cleared in the time allotted to pass each level, getting more difficult as players progress. There are several modes of gameplay: Arcade, Speed, Expert, Zen, and Multiplayer (recently added).

Despite the cute, cartoonish animals and their colorful habitats, the gameplay of Safari Party is actually quite challenging. My son (age seven) had no problem clearing the first five or so levels, but it took multiple attempts for him to go any higher. Because each level is timed, this app is fast-paced and exciting but may be a little stressful for some, too. Players can keep track of how many animal groups they have collected by looking at the tally at the top right of the screen and can also watch the timer scroll as it is visible along the bottom of the screen. Animals start to shake when the time is close to running out, however, as long as new groups of four are still being formed, extra time will be added to the clock. It is also possible to earn special achievements and “cheats,” which will help players to clear each level. Players can also shake their devices to scramble the order of the animals on the screen, so that more matches can be located in time.

Safari Party is one of the few apps that not only attracted the attention of my two kids and myself, but also caught the interest of my husband, who finds the app to be quite addictive. As both of us are former fans of Bejewled Blitz on Facebook, it is no surprise that we also like Safari Party. My husband and I take turns playing, competing with one another to progress to a higher level. I also play the app in a cooperative way with my son, as we help each other identify and group the animals. He particularly likes the look of the animals and their habitats.

The only criticism that I have of Safari Party is that when each level is cleared, a cartoon of a woman shows up on the screen to congratulate players, and I find them to be somewhat stereotypical in appearance. These women are wearing outfits meant to go along with each animal habitat, ie: Jungle-wear, Mermaid-wear, etc, and while each of them is pretty and appealing, one is drawn with cleavage showing, which I feel could have been avoided, as this is a children’s game. All in all, Safari Party is a charming and challenging app for ages 6 and up.

Cut the Buttons HD Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 27th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Cut the Buttons is a nice arcade-style game with a great look and fun sense of style. For readers somewhat familiar with apps, the title may seem reminiscent of the hit application, Cut the Rope - yet similarities end here. A better comparison would be to the app Fruit Ninja, as here, players must cut buttons from pieces of cloth as they drop across the screen. Do try to empty each swatch of buttons as a life is lost in Classic mode for buttons left behind, and also note the buttons attached by bolts as one can’t cut through these and will lose points for trying. Versions for both iPad as well as iPhone are available.

Arcade mode is also an option that tests players' cutting skills, removing as many buttons as possible at 1, 3 and 5 minute intervals. Single players can play as well as two players, and Normal as well as Crazy speed levels are included.

I enjoy how simple to learn yet difficult to master this game is. The look of this app is charming and will make parents who have taken their children to any sort of art class smile, as the buttons sewn onto scrap fabric, brightly colored and oddly shaped, is a universal one. The buttons themselves are colorful too and consist of a uniform style, but I do think it would be visually interesting to include different shape, style and pattern buttons as well. From looking at the iTunes screen shots, a variety of buttons may be available in upper levels that I never reached, but it would be nice for a mix of button styles to be included from the beginning.

The music included is enjoyable, and I appreciate the distressed wood-tone background used during game play, bringing a certain vintage quality to this game that I enjoy.

Although I really find the look of this app inviting, it would be a lie to say that I was any good at this game. For me, the material moving across the screen simply moved too quickly. I would love to see a “Novice” or “Relax” mode included in the future as well.

When I first heard about this app, I was really excited for my preschool-aged son to practice his cutting skills without the risk of injury to limb or property. His tapping and swiping abilities have been top-notch before turning two from working with many different applications, but he is still working on his ability to hold a pencil or cut with scissors with the intent to go beyond creating fringe on the edge of a paper. I am sure grade school-aged kids and up will enjoy this app, but I would also love to see a "Beginner" arcade section where players need to cut as many buttons as they can in a given time, but where the fabrics are not moving targets, as for my son's age and abilities this game is simply too fast.

The biggest thing I would love to see changed is to allow players to choose left or right-handled scissors. Lefty/righty teams of two can actually be accommodated as the player left of the screen cuts with scissors laid out for a lefty - same idea for the right side of the screen, as this configuration works best on the iPad or iPhone, but for solo left-handed players, the working of this very realistic scissors may prove to be difficult. I hope players can choose left or right-handed scissors in the future for single-player games as well.

The scissors themselves work the way one would expect, and I appreciate the subtle yet effective cutting sound included as well. Personally, I don’t know how long I can play this game in one sitting as my hand does get tired easily, but this is definitely a fun game to play that kids will enjoy.

I don’t pretend to be an occupational therapist, but this game may be of interest to those who work with older children and adults who may need help in strengthening fine motor skills. I do wonder, however, if the basic speed for more specialized groups would be a problem.

For this reason, I would love to see a simplified, non-moving version of this game included in the future. This is a very cute, likable game that many age groups will enjoy passing time with, but with the addition of left/tight hand choices and the ability to slow down or stop the action, this game could be an important teaching tool as well.

Not Just Another Puzzle Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 22nd, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Not Just Another Puzzle is an interesting and highly challenging puzzle app with multiple elements that create an experience unlike other puzzle apps seen in iTunes.

This app consists of 50 puzzles broken up into varied degrees of difficulty, but make no mistake about it, even the “toddler” puzzles may be difficult for some adults.

The backgrounds used here for the most part are wonderful photographs of mundane objects used to create fascinating puzzle surfaces, such as double chocolate-nut cookies, a carton of eggs, or colored pencils for a great effect. Other times graphic art is used to create an interesting backdrop.

Areas of these puzzles can be seen where these images are grayed out so that pieces can be added to the correct places within. Sometimes half the photograph may be empty; other times just a few spaces will be open.

The game-play itself consist of many puzzle elements that fans may be familiar with, yet not traditionally seen together in one application. Part slider game where pieces may need to be moved to gain access to or to fit other pieces into their correct slots, maze elements are often found as well, many times with moving details one must contend with, including hidden passageways that players must seek out, moving pieces accordingly.

A player also must rotate these pieces, yet by far the most challenging aspect of this app is the physics engine and gravity used - much more sensitive than the gravity found on earth, making it very difficult to simply pick up a single piece without it spinning around in circles, making placement difficult.

The pieces found here are block form, either as single squares or larger rectangles of two or three pieces that are picked up with the drag of a finger and placed in their correct location. I do wish a “click” sound effect could be heard when correct pieces have been placed - a satisfying detail found in other puzzle apps.

Even when simply sliding a piece into an area straight down between red markings that create the maze-like areas one is working on, the weightlessness of these pieces combined with the out-of-control gravity and rotation make lining up these pieces within the puzzle holes in question very difficult, as players may find for themselves

The level of difficulty is quite high and may not be the taste of casual puzzle users, but die-hard puzzle enthusiasts will be quite pleased with this application.

The music included within is uniformly relaxing, but I would like a chance to choose my own background piece as I work on these puzzles as some are more to my liking than other selections, especially one favorite piece reminiscent of Brian Eno’s ambient music.

I do take issue with the labeling of the first level of puzzles as “toddler” as the combined elements of rotation, gravity and other details make for puzzles that are at the comfort level of many adults. The idea of these puzzles being for toddlers shows a gross lack of awareness of the abilities of this age group, and adults looking at screen shots in iTunes for this app and seeing the section marked “toddler” may be disappointed that this app is in no way meant for their child. Older middle school-aged kids and teens who may really enjoy this app could also be put off by working on puzzles designed for toddlers. I would rather see this mode be marked as “beginner” instead.

In the future, I would love to see some options included such as the turning off of the rotation or gravity, making these puzzles more accessible to younger players. I have enjoyed the level of difficulty in the first few sections, but it would be nice not to feel shut out of enjoying this app completely due to my lack of ability and patience to work on these more difficult sections.

An option for a slight sense of “grab” found in other puzzle apps when the correct space draws the corresponding puzzle piece, as if by magnetism, would also be a nice inclusion, making these puzzles friendlier for young children.

It is also a disappointment to me that when a puzzle is completed, this app does not acknowledge the player's hard work in any way, disconcerting as one is left looking for any mistakes that may have made, even if no mistakes are present.

I hope in the future this app will include some sort of conclusion when a puzzle has been completed, and I wish it were easer to get back to the main menu to choose another puzzle to work on or new level of difficulty.

Even without changes made to this application, those who are puzzle enthusiasts - be they older children or adults - will really enjoy this app, and it is nice that this app gets updated regularly with more puzzles.

All-in-all, a very challenging experience that includes quality images and use of music.

Frankenstein Matchmaker - Monsters Need Love Too Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 13th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Frankenstein Matchmaker - Monsters Need Love Too is a fun and educational universal arcade-style game involving Frankenstein monsters and their brides as one is in charge of playing Cupid, shooting Frankenstein monsters with word-loaded arrows to create monster couples.

Game play is simple as the bottom of the screen includes a row of monster brides with specific word choices. Center screen are monsters walking around labeled with other words that need to be matched up with the words below. To do so, tap on a matching word at the bottom and then swivel the included crossbow, aiming these words at the corresponding monster. Work fast as these monsters will begin to fill up the page, and when they make their way down the screen to the bottom of the page, the game is over.

I have really enjoyed this application, praise to be sure as I usually shy away from both arcade and word games because I am not good at either, but I have enjoyed my time spent with the application.

I did, however, find the aim with the crossbow a little difficult at first as this weapon seems very sensitive, and the aim can easily be off as one moves a finger not only to line up the target but to fire the weapon, with player's finger movement accidentally changing the aim for the worse. After some practice, however, I got the hang of this game, and it is a lot of fun. Subtle sound effects are included when loading, firing, and hitting these monsters, creating a very satisfying experience.

Being very educational, four different modes are included that teach Anagrams, Rhymes, Synonyms and Antonyms. The Easy section focuses on Rhymes and Anagrams only, while the medium and difficult levels ultimately cover all four topics. An “Insane” level is included with an increase of speed with which these monsters move.

This would be a wonderful game for grade school children and above, including teens studying for their SAT’s as the Synonyms and Antonyms can be surprisingly complex, and I appreciate how, except for the “insane” level, just enough time is given to pause and contemplate one’s answer for a brief moment while still giving a player the chance to respond.

The look of this app is super-cute as well, and I really enjoy the concept of the Frankenstein monsters being always angry because they don’t have mates. The green ghouls are more cute than scary but still include some creepy monster-like details that made me smile, and there is a fun intro scene involving Cupid shooting a Frankenstein monster to match him with a lady monster that I enjoy, and it is nice that the background of this game changes scene to scene, oftentimes with a darkened field or farm-like area, as well as other landscapes.

Now that Valentine's Day is coming up, this may be a good app to download for children, even teens, who may benefit from this nicely conceived word game. The arcade aspect of this app will engage students who may otherwise find this subject matter tedious, making this a great teaching tool.

Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures for iPhone Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 10th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures for iPhone is an intriguing maze app with significant hidden picture elements as well, creating an application that will appeal to many ages including adults. A version of this app is also available for iPad.

This app consists of a very large play surface expressed as a landscape that spreads for the equivalent of miles and miles in this epic iPhone app.

16 smaller sections are included that seamlessly merge together, which can be seen individually in the map function that shows players the areas they have been to as well as those areas yet to be explored, outlined nicely to simplify this grand hidden object maze game. One lovely clue of having ventured into another section is that the music changes, uniformly very nice to listen to, with a quality reminiscent of a score from a movie.

It is hard for me to describe the details that can be found within this app, as this game gives a bird's-eye view of an entire world created by hand drawn illustrations, lovingly stylized yet realistic at the same time, with bright, colorful details found within.

Imagine looking at Google Earth close enough to make out buildings, cars, streets, parks or even a zoo. From the other cars on the road, baseball diamond and school, and a plethora of other details are included that create a land within this app that one can explore with the drag of a finger. Other sections have themes as well, such as an area full of amusement park rides, a rather industrial section, an urban center and a rural area as well as the chance to sky or float in a raft.

Being partially a hidden object game, players will notice at the bottom of the screen a row of objects that one is to collect with the tap of a finger when discovered, as well as a star cut into pieces which players needs to make their way to collect, be it by driving, walking or other means of transportation. These objects to be found are different for each section and will change when one crosses over to another area of this app.

It is intriguing how the maze sections not visited are obscured in clouds as seen on the main map, leaving a lot of surprises to unearth as the game is played for extended periods of time, but I do wish that some sort of hints could be available for those who hit a brick wall, not knowing how to find their way within these mazes as they try to travel to other locations.

To navigate, drag the car or other mode of moving around where you would like to go with a finger; when walking, tap ahead to have the footprints follow.

Also note that one can pinch and zoom the screens to show details of the bigger picture, and players can, to a point, scroll around to see more of the section they are visiting.

The ability to drive where one wants to go takes some getting used to. I was able to get the hang of it after playing for a while, but it can often be difficult - even frustrating - to try to drive in a direction leading off the screen.

I would like to see this app smoothed out somehow because when one is simply driving, the screen self corrects, moving the landscape to correspond with the driving to maintain a good visual, much like the way a sophisticated map program may work to navigate in real life - an element I would love to also see when driving off the screen, as now the player is often just stuck not being able to move forward to continue the game.

It would also be nice to be able to manually move the background in the direction one is driving - not possible to do although one can scroll in other directions to take in the details and determine where they may be in the bigger picture.

The heavy use of road lanes, one-way streets, roundabouts and other means of organizing traffic found within these mazes would make an urban planner smile, and will make players want to travel to various points of interest just to explore all that this app has to offer. Finding how to get where they are going, however, while negotiating the lanes and road blocks such as construction can make things challenging.

It may be an interesting choice for a future update to create a beginner level by removing the one-way arrows in order to simplify game play for younger children, although this app is a great exercise for learning how to follow a map that will contain detailed information about one-way lanes and spatial reasoning in general.

The realism of the car in use needing to drive head first, not backing up to drive is interesting, as white headlights are used to differentiate the front of the car from the red lights in back, but turning the car around to face forward can also be tricky, and it would be nice if there were an easier way to turn and face the correct direction.

The tutorial offered at the beginning of gameplay is enjoyable, but a written section about this app, the larger map, and the smaller connecting sections within would have been helpful.

This app with all its included details is stunning to look at - impressive to adults and teens possibly more so than to younger children who will also enjoy this app. The amount of game play is immense, with many hours of mazes for players to emerge themselves in. This app is best for those who enjoy longer games that will span over days or weeks depending on how long a time is spent on a given application.

Excellent for long trips, this app will keep track of one's progress - a necessity for a game of such length, as well as the games of three other players.

I do recommend this app for those who have the attention span to fully enjoy these mazes as well as have the patience to deal with a bit of a learning curve. This app will be a huge hit with puzzle lovers, giving them many hours of enjoyment.

I very much enjoyed all the sights one can see as well as the sounds one can find, such as the zoo animals heard with a tap, as well as fun, recurring elements to search for, including ice cream trucks and penguins. Quirky details are included that make me smile, such as the name of the player being incorporated into this app in a charming way as well as subtle animated elements that one should be on the lookout for.

This is the second app based on the books of artist Roxie Munro. I am thrilled that her artwork, such as lift-the-flap books or maze activities, have been developed for devices, and I hope to see more of her work transformed as well. If interested, please check out my review of Roxie’s Doors here at GiggleApps - a wonderful, less complex application that can be enjoyed by all, especially the preschool set and grade school-aged children.

Hippo Adventure

Posted by Sarah Reidy on February 7th, 2012

Hippo Adventure, developed by okigames, is a physics-based puzzle game offering 84 progressively more difficult levels. The object is to roll the Hippo (boy or girl, player’s choice) to his or her home by avoiding and or strategically moving obstacles, such as boulders, squares of grass and ice, and wooden blocks. The graphics are beautifully done (currently set to a winter wonderland theme) and it is such a great feeling each time Hippo successfully rolls to his or her warm and cozy-looking mushroom cottage. There is no background music playing and the sound-effects are fairly subtle which is much appreciated, as I find loud and frantic background noise to be distracting and super-annoying!

What can I say…I love Hippo Adventure! It is rare that the kids and I find a game that challenges all three of us, keeps us entertained and delights us, but Hippo Adventure does all three! My son, age seven, was able to beat the first ten or so levels with no problems and my daughter, age ten, was able to breeze through the first twenty, but is stuck on Level 21. The game is challenging enough for older children, teens as well as adults, as it often takes multiple attempts to clear a level. Because the game requires logic, spatial- relations skills as well as the ability to strategize, Hippo Adventure is most appropriate for children ages 6 and up.

While this game gets great reviews from me as well as my kids, there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out to make the gameplay even better. Firstly, each time you clear a level or fail it, the text remains the same, reading, “Level Complete.” This makes it slightly confusing as to whether or not a level has been cleared. The second issue is that it is supposed to be easy to swipe your finger across the screen to cut a string holding a snowball, thereby releasing it. However, it is actually very difficult to perform the swiping action in such a way that the snowball is released. This is frustrating, because timing is essential to being able to clear each level.

If these issues as fixed, Hippo Adventure has the potential to be a really great game for all ages. I am hopeful that an update will address these small glitches and I can’t wait to see what the next season or theme will be, as the graphics are what sets this enchanting app apart from the others.

Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 2nd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is a wonderful educational resource and a terrific universal companion app to those who are studying Macbeth in school or are simply fans of Shakespeare.

I am very excited to be introducing this app to readers as this app features Michael Mills's Nine Minute animated adaptation of this tragic Shakespearean play.

Michael Mills is a British-born animator, director and producer - possibly best known for his Oscar-nominated animated shorts - ‘Evolution’ and ‘History of the World in Three Minutes flat.’

I do love his take on Macbeth. The animation style is sly and sophisticated, and with a tongue-in-cheek and will impress all ages.

Not only is this animated short included, but a terrific section, The Self Guide is also included with an impressive amount of information, both specifically about Macbeth as well as about life during this period of time in general.

There is so many great sections to explore, such as the main characters from this play and the complete text of Macbeth as well as the other works of Shakespeare. The Life and Times of Shakespeare and historical information about Scotland are included as well as information about theaters of this time period and a fascinating section on The Symbolic and the Supernatural.

Each of these topics is further broken down into sub-categories - some of my favorites being the discoveries and Inventions touching upon the scientific concepts of Copernicus and Galileo, the great Renaissance man - Leonardo da Vinci, and the importance of Gutenberg’s printing press, comparing it very wisely to today’s internet.

I think it is also great how the other works of Shakespeare are mentioned, such as the Sonnets, Poems, Folios and Quartos, as well as a section dedicated to famous Shakespearean quotes.

Other interesting information, like how the use of children instead of women as actors is touched upon, and I really enjoy how the superstition of the title Macbeth - never uttered while this play is under production - is also incorporated into this very rich encyclopedia of all things Shakespeare.

An impressive three hours of content is included that older grade school kids as well as adults will find very fun and informative. I appreciate how the included text can be narrated by Mills as his narration is wonderful, also allowing children who may be reluctant readers to gain a lot from this app by listening to it alone.

An interactive timeline and world map are also thoughtfully included that students of all ages will enjoy. Do tap on the animations as well, as some fun hidden hotspots are included, triggering some wildly witty animations.

It is great that an interactive mode also exists where one can watch the video and tap icons placed at the bottom of the page that will bring one to the corresponding informational section of this app, allowing one to gain further insight while watching the included animation.

This is very helpful in learning more about the various subjects within this app, but I did have some issues with getting back into the story after I perused the added info.

it would be nice if some sort of button was able to be tapped that would bring viewers back to the area of the video they were watching last. I also felt that the Self Guide of information took some getting used to in terms of its basic navigation -issues not too terrible but which could possibly be smoothed out in a future update.

I enjoy the additional clips of Michael Mills himself found within this app as well, exploring details further or giving instructions on how to best enjoy this app, but I found these clips to be of lower resolution, noticeable but not in a way that took away from the enjoyment of his presence, although the images of Mills himself are quite small, especially on the iPhone.

I also noticed that a few pages from the Self Guide did not have the included narration one would expect from this fully narrated app - an issue I hope can be worked out in the future.

Even with these minor notes, Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is an app that I greatly enjoyed, both on its own merits and also because apps for older children are not as common as I would like in iTunes. I highly recommend this app to any student who is reading Shakespeare as well as to adults who would like to know more about this time period in general.

I am thrilled to learn that this app is first in a series like it, I will be on the lookout for more of these Thumbnail Theatre apps in the future as this one was terrific.

The Opposites Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on January 19th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

The Opposites is a wonderfully educational universal app that I greatly enjoy and recommend to others.

I really enjoy this word game. Here, players tap word balloons, finding corresponding opposites as these balloons quickly fill up the page. If the board is not cleared before the page fills up with words, the game is over.

I must admit that by re-reading my own explanation of this game, this app does not sound all that interesting or unique. I do agree that other developers could have gone down a road making this app less dynamic that this application really is, but what really makes this app wonderful for me is the visual style and interesting back story that is offered here - much of which is open for interpretation.

This application is centered around two contrary children, presumably brother and sister. I love the choices made here, as the backdrop of this wordplay game is a wall behind these verbally sparring children that is filled with family photos, often including moments of their sibling rivalry. I think it is very clever how these siblings, although opposite sexes, look very much alike, not being as opposite as they may wish, and the styling of these siblings with green eyes and red hair simply makes me smile.

I am also happy to report that the ambient music found within this app is very easy and desirable to listen to over long period of time, a interesting and unique choice that I enjoy.

Other details include an overhead light that sways side to side with the movement of the device. The word bubbles are also affected by gravity and the movement of the device as well, something that players may use to their advantage, as the layering of these bubbles tightly allows more words to fit on a page before the game is over.

It is great to hear these words narrated by both these male and female characters, allowing players to hear the pronunciation of these words.

The word pairs themselves increase in difficulty from the simplest combinations, such as Stop and Go, or Left and Right, and increase in difficulty through the ten levels, ultimately including words more obscure and scholarly, such as words rooted in biology, medicine, economics or politics and even popular culture, such as a “Guys and Dolls” reference.

Players will learn to decipher the prefixes of words, including “ex” vs. “in,” “in” and “out,” as well as the inclusion of the prefixes “im”, “in,” and “un” to be the opposite of the corresponding word beginning used. I enjoy how these words may have different meanings and multiple possible opposites, with the context falling into place when the second word is revealed.

Although listed as an app for seven and up, I would not hesitate to buy this app for older children or even an adult who enjoys word games. It has been twenty years or so since I took my SATs, and to this day I still make metal notes of sources of material that may make studying for this test easier, and I think this is a great application for those studying for this most important exam.

Personally, I would start the use of the app younger, allowing these sometimes advanced words to be part of a student's common knowledge instead of words one tries to cram in so that one can do well on a specific test.

I really appreciate how this app includes a dictionary that includes each of the words used, broken down by level and comprised of an easy-to-scan list of opposites, also allowing one to tap on a word to read more about its definition.

Players can decide if they want to study the words for each level found in the included dictionary or have a go at the game, learning what works and what does not along the way.

Although apparent for many words used, it would be nice if the part of speech, be it noun, verb or adjective, was also included, and I would love to see this dictionary be narrated as well, possibly in a future update.

It would also be nice for a link to the dictionary to be available when one is choosing a level, as this is not provided as one rises through these levels, and it takes a couple of clicks to find this important, well-written resource.

It is impressive that the list of possible words for every level is a lot longer than the amount of words covered in each level before one moves on, allowing for a new experience when replaying this game or individual levels.

I think this would be an excellent app for educators to use within the classroom, as well as for home use. I know I would have enjoyed this game as a child or teen, as well as the adult I am today, and I appreciate how this word game is focused on one’s vocabulary and reasoning skill without focusing on spelling in any form - something I have always been lousy at.

Some level of strategy is also incorporated here as a word bubble may be highlighted yellow, letting players know that pairing this word will allow for a fruit break for these siblings, pausing their delivery of words - in effect also pausing the flow of words into this page to match or lose the game. Keeping this in mind, I do like to save this special grouping for when the board is getting full and I could use a little time to think.

I have had moments with bad luck where many words without pairs fill up the screen, making the level easy to lose, but for the most part I find this game to have a nice level of difficulty in terms of the amount of time given, both in the levels as well as in the bonus rounds

Typically, I do not comment on the reviews apps have received in iTunes, but I must say that I am surprised with the low score this app has received. It is worth noting that I have not had any issues with this app crashing, and I have completed every level. I do agree that this app takes some time to load - something that I hope can be looked at in the future, but this is not a big issue for me as this app is well-worth waiting for.

My son is too young to appreciate this app now, but I look forward to when he is old enough to enjoy this word game. I have routinely been impressed with the apps the developers at Mindshapes have come up with. A prolific bunch, their apps are each unique to themselves, but with the same overall very high quality. I look forward to more of their apps in the future.

Toontastic Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on November 29th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Toontastic is a wonderfully creative and educational app for iPad which allows children of all ages 5 and up to create their own animated shorts, learning about the dramatic structure commonly used within storytelling.

I am greatly impressed by this app, as this application allows kids to choose from different location and character elements as well as use their own drawings to create an animated cartoon.

Intuitive to use, this app helps children to create more complex stories than they may be accustomed to as this teaches the principles of dramatic structure, breaking down the story to be told into a story arc of the traditional five scenes. For the purposes of this app, these five sections are called Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax and Resolution and include a concise and easily understood explanation of what each of these scenes should entail thematically.

It is nice that the page describing these scenes has a diagram of these scenes, creating an image somewhat akin to the traditional “Freytag’s Pyramid” used to illustrate the five sections of the traditional story arc.

Easy to use, players tap each scene from beginning to end and choose a location from those provided, including different landscapes appropriate for a pirate, space, or royal motifs. Once the setting is chosen, scroll through the characters available bottom of the screen, tapping to make one’s choices appear with this scene. From here, one can arrange these characters, re-size them, and even change the colors to details found amongst these characters.

I especially like how multiples of these same characters can be used within a scene if one wishes, and do play around with articulating the moving elements of these characters such as moving an arm holding a sword up and down to duel, and note that one can have these characters face right, left, or straight ahead. Users can start the animation at any time, although the moving of these elements past simply dragging the characters around the page can be difficult and one may need to practice a few times to get the finer articulated movements down the way one wishes.

The ability to record narration or dialogue to be heard within this scene is also intuitive and produces well-done results. Do move the characters around the page as these movements will be captured and played back within this scene. When complete, music can be chosen that corresponds with the emotion the scene at hand is trying to convey, and it is interesting that one can choose from music selections that also correspond to the “emotional energy,” found within each scene, as one is able to move the level of energy with the tap of up or down arrows, creating different musical choices depending on the energy level chosen.

I appreciate how players can draw their own backgrounds and characters, complete with the sophisticated color choice of allowing one to grab and color from the rainbow of choices provided, as well as a relatively fine paintbrush point, allowing for some details and a paint bucket method of filling in sections of one’s artwork - my choice tool for filling in areas with color. I had a few unresponsive moments testing out this function of creating one's own drawings, but for the most part I think that this drawing section works well and is a valuable inclusion within this app. It is especially nice that narrated prompts can be turned on throughout this app, allowing non-readers to create their own cartoons as well.

I am impressed with the well known music selections available, making this app very educational in terms of music appreciation, allowing children to become familiar with well known musical pieces such as “Rhapsody in Blue,” Pachelbel's “Canon in D,” and other familiar scores such as the theme to the movie 2001, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, or Ride of the Valkyries - recognizable to many by the famous Bugs Bunny episode “What’s Opera, Doc” otherwise known as “Kill the Rabbit.”

Do listen to all the music selections available to find the piece that will truly work within a specific scene. I sometimes had a difference of opinion as to what music fit what emotion, an interesting aspect that can create some nice open-ended conversations about how music can be used to create emotion - just as important a lesson to learn as the dramatic structure itself.

I really wish, however, that all these famous pieces of music were given proper credit, for me this is a real bummer that this information is not included.

Toontastic is a great app for both school as well as home settings and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages and abilities, and it is nice that completed cartoons can be saved to the iPad or shared online for others to enjoy as well. I am happy to see a thoughtfully written section for parents and educators fully explaining how to get the most out of the app.

This app does have some limitations, as I was not able to fully move my characters off the screen to have them leave a scene, and I do wish that more objects were available for these characters to interact with. This is less of an issue if one has the ability to draw the added items one may be looking to use, and in app purchases of more motifs are available, complete with both background and included characters, but I wish more was offered per each additional purchase.

Having said this, Toontasic is an important app that both parents and educators should be aware of. This is an app I have recommended to friends - both parents as well as teachers - to use in their classrooms. This app teaches invaluable lessons about storytelling to kids who are never too young about this, and who will benefit greatly from being exposed to in this manner.

Paul Bunyan, told by Jonathan Winters Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on November 28th, 2011

Paul Bunyan, told by Jonathan Winters, is a fun new Read-Play-and-Record Along Rabbit Ears interactive storybook that delightfully re-tells the great American folklore of Paul Bunyan with wonderful narration and fun illustrations. Like the other apps from this series, this app is universal and can be watched like a video or read like a book, and one can make one’s own recording as well.

For those who do not know, Paul Bunyan is one of the most famous characters from North American folklore. Bunyan was said to be larger than life both in stature as well as in his logging abilities as a lumberjack. Here, with the aid of his animal companion, Babe, the blue ox, Bunyan tackles President Teddy Roosevelt's request to clear the trees of the Dakotas for settlers to make new homes.

It is a wonderful choice to have Jonathan Winters narrate this tall tale, doing a terrific job, especially as this story is played for the most part, for laughs and includes some fun moments of action and adventure, more so than many of the other applications from this series that may have a melancholy tone. The music accompanying these apps have always been uniformly perfect, as is the case here with the music from acoustic guitarist, Leo Kottke.

True to the style of these Rabbit Ears interactive storybooks, the illustrations found within the storybook section are used throughout the video, as this artwork is panned and zoomed in to show details and other effects. Images from the storybook also fade into each other, creating a montage effect, moving along the video in what would be from one page to the next. Different from the other apps in this library that very literally use the same images found within the storybook section, many of the images here are more adaptations as they may vary from what is found within the storybook.

The illustrations found in the book section have a fun and charming look to them that is in contrast with the earnestly beautiful watercolors found other Rabbit Ears titles - here, oftentimes cartoony implied movement are included as some slapstick humor is incorporated nicely to complement the over-the-top antics which Paul Bunyan and the other loggers demonstrate.

In the video, mild but effective animations are simply used to make these movements more realized and less implied, and other simple animated moments are included as well, such as snow or rain falling, or Babe’s eyes opening as Bunyan warms this poor frozen creature back to life. Images found in the video do not always correspond to the illustrations found page by page within the book, making both watching the video and reading the storybook different experiences.

It is worth noting that here, a more modern ending has been included that some may call politically correct, giving Bunyan remorse for clearing all the forests of their trees in an ending that makes me think of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.

Although the text remains the same, the imagery used to tell the ending of this story in the video and storybook sections are different, as in the storybook, these lines of text displayed are on pages full of empty, blighted land with a peek of forests, either snow caped or only as tree tops used as end pages for this book.

On the other hand, the video has these last moments taking place in a lush, thick forest now inhabited by Bunyan as he has since quit logging and is now planting trees. Here, this moment also includes a nice visual effect in which this forest has a surprising three-dimensional look that I found very effective, also found in the beginning of this video, further creating two different experiences within this one app.

Although I understand that this ending is not a part of the mythology of Paul Bunyan, I appreciate this resolution as it changes the tone in an interesting way - from light-hearted and fun to somber and thoughtful.

However, I can also imagine parents uncomfortable with this ending if one is simply looking for a fun, feel-good story about Paul Bunyan. I can also imagine this ending may even be off-putting to some who believe the ecology theme included in some ways minimizes the hard work put forth by loggers of days past.

Some parents may also give pause at the idea of this classic character being simply changed, as fans of this application will be familiar with a Paul Bunyan different that the classic folklore, while others may appreciate this new environmentally friendly ending.

My son and I have enjoyed this tall tale turned application. I truly hope to see more Rabbit Ears interactive storybooks in the future. Although I am grateful that one’s page is held because these books tend to be lengthy, it would be nice to add a menu of pages as well to aid parents in finding specific moments that kids may especially enjoy - just a thought.

Please also note that today is the last day of the sale price of $1.99 for all Ruckus Media Group apps, and more importantly, that all the proceeds of the sales of these apps will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you have not already done so, you may want to check out what apps Ruckus Media Group has in iTunes to purchase for this worthy cause.

Thumbelina, told by Kelly McGillis Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on November 23rd, 2011

Thumbelina, told by Kelly McGillis, is a wonderful adaptation of this classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, developed by Ruckus Mobile Media. This version of this classic story is also part of the library of tales created by Rabbit Ears Entertainment, known for incorporating award-winning stories, amazing celebrity narrations and phenomenal music and art. These applications are universal apps and can be watched like a video or read like a book, and one can make one’s own recording as well.

Thumbelina is a tale about a girl born to a childless couple with the aid of magic who grows only to be the size of one’s thumb and the adventures she experiences as she is unwillingly taken from her home to be married off to various creatures who find that her size and beauty make her good marriage material.

This classic tale, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1835, is a true favorite story of mine as I love the imagery of a young woman so small that she can sleep in a walnut shell as well as the interesting anthropomorphic animals she meets along the way that are so very human, although oftentimes in ways most unflattering.

Being a lengthy children’s tale, many characters are introduced within this story, and I have noticed that other apps as well as children’s books and other media based on the original tend to touch upon the plot points found within but can remain rather disjointed as a complete narrative. I am happy to say that the thorough re-telling of this classic will satisfy children of all ages as well as adult Andersen fans, although I do wish that a new name were given to Thumbelina when she becomes queen of the fairy people as is traditionally found within this story, as the name Thumbelina is in fact a slightly pejorative reference to her height in comparison to a human thumb, an issue no longer relevant once married to the fairy king, and the re-naming of Thumbelina to Maia symbolizes a new beginning.

The look of the included video is simply captivating, hand-drawn and lovingly painted in water color. Some close-ups show the texture of the paper as well, adding to the richness of this lushly illustrated story. Narrator Kelly McGillis does a wonderful job of narrating this story, with a soothing, almost sleepy tone, skillfully re-told as this video is both relaxing as it is captivating. The music of Mark Isham is also perfectly realized, working wonderfully alongside the other elements to fully create a world in which this story takes place.

I appreciate greatly how pretty both the world around her and Thumbelina herself are with these simple, tender illustrations, with a great contrast to the gruesome creatures also introduced such as frogs, june bugs, and a most unpleasant mole, with great voices created to further develop these antagonistic characters.

I also enjoy how the artwork used within the storybook sections of this app are also transformed into moving images for the video with the use of the “Ken Burns Effect” as these water color paintings found within this app have been panned and zoomed into, directing the reader where to look and creating a sense of drama within this story. Although the video section is watched like a movie, the effect here is unlike something commonly seen on television and will impress even those who are not keen on kids spending time with kids videos as this is in fact an alternative way of exploring artwork.

These illustrations are also found within the storybook sections as well, but they are slightly concealed in some areas of the screen by a window that is includes text within a white background all its own, semi obscuring the painting beneath. This does make the text easy to read, especially helpful when recording a personal narrated tract, but I can’t help wonder if a simple band on the bottom of the screen would have distracted less from the very special artwork.

I have used this video section to calm my son mid melt-down with great success because from the first few moments of listening to this opening score, earnest and beautiful, combined with the impressive water colors. This is a very engaging, yet relaxing experience for my son, who quickly settles down to listen to this story, forgetting what was causing him concern.

This app is an impressive length of almost half and hour and 73 pages found in the storybook, making this a lovely choice of application to share with children of all ages on long trips, keeping kids occupied with a great experience in both art and literature that parents can feel good about. Sometimes I enjoy simply listening to these Ruckus storybook apps as this alone is a lovely experience, making the video mode something everyone on a long car ride can enjoy, even if not directly looking at the images.

Please also be aware that through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, all the proceeds of the sales from Ruckus Media Groups Read-Play-and-Record Along Rabbit Ears interactive storybooks, along with their other apps, will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I feel privileged to have been able to review the majority of Ruckus Media Group apps, so I know from personal experience how terrific they all are. This, combined with the wonderful charity they are now connected with, and the fact that during this time each are on sale for $1.99 makes these apps wonderful digital stocking stuffers and Chanukah gifts, with different apps available for every age range, including adults.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories - Dr. Seuss Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on October 17th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

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.

JigsawGeo Africa Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 26th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

JigsawGeo Africa is a very nice universal application which teaches the geography of Africa with a good use of puzzles. This app is part of a large series of apps geared towards geographical literacy, worth checking out.

This app consists of four ways of filling up with the included map of Africa, nicely varied for different skill levels. This game opens to the easiest mode, “Traveler,” in which the players match a country’s colorful shape to its corresponding outline within the a map of Africa. This mode offers a nice hint of slowly zooming-in to the area where this country is found, allowing players with little knowledge of Africa to succeed at this game.

I really enjoy this mode as I have never been a good student of geography, and the zooming-in helps me complete this map, allowing me to learn a lot about where these countries fit within this contenent without feeling frustrated. I really do appreciate the zooming used here, especially when the country in question is quite small, something lacking in other geography apps that I have used. I also like that when a country is tapped to drag, it enlarges to show scale in comparison to other countries - a very nice touch.

The “Surveyor” and “Navigator” modes work much the same way, but without the benefit of the slow, automatic zooming-in as a clue, yet players are still able to zoom in on this map themselves to see detail and match the country in play with its matching outline. In “Surveyor” mode, the names of the countries are used, whereas in the “Navigator” mode, the countries' capitals are focused on instead.

The most difficult section within this app is “Discover,” as here, the countries' flags are used instead, removing the ability to complete this map much like a jigsaw puzzle, matching countries to their outlines.

Nice, bright colors are used within this app, adding beauty to the map of Africa as it is filled in, and this app is a nice choice for students as a clear, yet detailed map of Africa is uses, simple to look at and unadorned - but effective in teaching geography. Time is kept for each game finished, and these scores can be left locally on one’s device or added to a world-wide database of players. This is a nice feature, but I would also like to see an option for these games to be played without scorekeeping as well.

Teachers and parents of later grade school kids will be interested in this app as well as this series in general - nice resources aiding in the learning of geography around the world. If interested, please read the review of JigsawGeo USA also reviewed on GiggleApps.

Spot it: Dobble Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 19th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Spot it: Dobble is a really fun and challenging game for kids as well as adults. Based on the popular party game, known both as "Dobble" or "Spot It," this app consists of two cards that include 6-10 shapes, based on the level of difficulty. These cards must be compared to find the single object that is found on both cards. Easy to understand, this game is actually quite challenging, even for adults and is simply a lot of fun to play. Sometimes these corresponding objects that one is seeking will pop off the cards easily; other times players will feel quite stumped indeed. This is because these shapes, although the same, will be in varied sizes and angles, making them hard to pick out from the other choices given. There is a point system in this game as well, adding an incentive to find these objects as fast as possible - hopefully before the timer that encircles these cards makes a full rotation, and note that a mistake will cost you.

I really appreciate the music used here; it is jazzy and upbeat, adding an element of urgency and reminding me of background music from a 1960’s spy or crime thriller without adding undo stress to the game play - a balancing act that these developers get just right. Sound effects are included as well, adding to the fun as each item found sounds an associated sound effect - a bit of whimsy to this addictive game application. It is also nice that the music or sound effects can be silenced independently from each other, always a nice touch.

Players can play by themselves, or “duel” with a friend to see who can spot 15 common objects first. It would be good if in the future, this app could become universal because an iPhone is a little small to share between two people, working best sitting side-by-side, but will play fine from across one another as well. I have blown this app up 2X on the iPad, and I really like the extra elbow room this affords the players, but in so doing, the resolution becomes somewhat lacking, although two could play this way without any problems.

I really enjoy this game as I love the way it gets my mind working. I do wish, however, that the choosing of specific game modes were more intuitive. As of now my game play consists of “Time attack” where I find 15 objects, one per hand, as quickly as possible, but I am locked out of the other game modes. “Checkpoint," as I understand, has players makes as many matches as possible within a time limit. I have also not been able to gain access to “Hot Potato” - a mode for two players where one steals cards from the opponent, winning after one collects 10 cards. Three levels of difficulty are included as well, and I thought I would be able to move on after finishing the difficult level which includes 10 symbols per card, but with no such luck.

This application is a very pleasant surprise, as I am often not great at speed-based games, but being locked out of these other modes does frustrate me. In the future, I would like to see specific information about when these modes are available, and honestly, an option to have basic access to these sections without doing anything special would make me happy.

I do hope this note does not persuade others from downloading this game, as even if this app only contained the single and double player games that I have been able to play, it would be well worth the price tag of $0.99 and it is quite possible that others will figure out the locking system even if I have not, as I don’t pretend to be good at that sort of thing.

This will be a great application to play with my son as he gets a little older. I would love to play it with my husband as well, but his work schedule makes this difficult.

This app has made me very curious about the related party game, something I will be on the lookout for when my son shows interest and aptitude for this application. Like books, I find value in both the classic presentation of a game like this as well as its application counterpart. Although far into the future, I see myself buying this card game as a standard gift in grade school if my son allows this. I highly recommend this app!

This Too Shall Pass Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 1st, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

This Too Shall Pass is a very unique and special storybook application with versions available for both iPad as well as iPhone. This tale, based on a traditional proverb of the same name and also part of the “Classic World Tales” series by the developers at Moving Tales, is excellent. Languages include Spanish, French, as well as English, and are great for bilingual families as it is intriguing how one can select a language mid-story if one chooses, and one can make his own recording as well.

Said to be inspired by Persian, Buddhist, and Jewish sources, this is a story of a kind, yet disillusioned king who searches for words of wisdom that can relieve him of his melancholy, as he worries that his state of mind may dampen the mood of his kingdom.

Here, the king gathers together the best minds available, but it is advice from a humble shoeshine man that he finds to be life-changing. I really like how this version of the story adds the introspective character of the shoeshine man, and it is he who delivers this simple and affirming notion that all things material and external change, instead of the hired scholars and wise men, as I appreciate how this proverb has been fleshed out into a story rich with character development not found in original sources, yet maintaining the tone of the traditional tale nicely.

In some versions of this ancient proverb, the king asks his advisers to design a ring that will make him happy when sad or sad when happy. I appreciate that here, instead of a ring, a bell is inscribed, paving the way for a lovely, moving ending in which the king creates a large bell detailed with this message to share with his kingdom.

In many ways, I am not a fan of 3D images in many applications, preferring the look of hand-drawn illustrations . I am, however, deeply impressed with the look and quality of the artwork. My desire for the beauty found in hand-crafted art is quenched as the images themselves do not look overly computer-generated, yet the 3D effects are simply to be marveled, yet does not call attention to themselves.

This story opens up with what one would call a continuous shot if dealing in film terms, escorting the viewer down a long winding path alongside many buildings as one approaches the king’s castle. The use of perspective and shadows is quite impressive to say the leas,t as are all the visuals of this ebook. The visual choices used to tell this story are stunning - difficult to describe with words, especially in the interest of not spoiling any of the magic.

These animations are wonderfully stylized, with a beautiful use of black, white, and many shades of gray, subtly highlighted as well with the use of blues or gold. I also love how the text of each page gently trickles down into place, a technique I have not seen before from other developers, and it is also interesting that the accelerometer can be used to have the text fall off the page if one moves the device left or right - also quieting the narration - a function that can also be turned off if one finds this distracting.

Although Autoplay is offered, I am also impressed with the fact that as the animations, sounds, and music used on each page are looped, so long after the narration is over, one can gaze at the wonderful images and listen to the music used to tell this story before swiping to the next page, something I found myself doing a lot of as I was enjoying this book.

There are not as many storybooks appropriate for kids older than the preschool set, and I think that this is an excellent choice for kids grade school and up. The vocabulary used here is extensive and could be difficult for many children to read on their own, but I don’t think many will have problems following this story if one listens to this tale with the narration, which is excellent, but can also be turned off as well if one wishes, as can the display of the text on the screen. It may be nice option as well for these words to be highlighted if the reader wishes, possibly helping reading comprehension of younger viewers.

The message that “This too shall pass” is certainly one that would benefit school-aged kids as the tribulations found at this age can seem overwhelming, although very temporary in adult eyes. This application reminds me of how my dad would wisely refer me to the words “DON’T PANIC” found on the cover of Douglas Adams “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as fellow writer, Arthur C. Clarke has been quoted as saying "DON'T PANIC is perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity." It also makes me think of the “It gets better” project, a term used to reach out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth who in the midst of lives difficult to live, have a hard time understanding that their situations are temporary and that it does get better. No matter the specific circumstances, the knowledge of how temporary things are in the greater scheme of things is a very important concept for kids of any age to be exposed to. My son, at 3.5 years, is a little young to fully grasp this quite yet, I but I am looking forward to sharing this application with him as he gets a little older.

I really enjoy This Too Shall Pass. The music used here is equally as wonderful as are the visual elements. This story never gets old for me, as there is a randomization to the alternating views and sound effects used, creating a unique experience every time - great for reading again and again.

I am very impressed with what Moving Tales has delivered in this application. I am eagerly awaiting new titles of theirs, as I am sure they will be equally impressive. Do check them out in Itunes; you won’t be disappointed.