Six alliteratively named barnyard denizens are introduced in a puzzle which asks users to swipe their screen and align the animals’ top and bottom halves. Correctly matching the pieces and completing an animal initiates a short story in rhymed couplets starring that character.
Each of these interconnected tales set on the same farm is a small quest story. Four of them revolve around creature comforts: Cuddly Cow just wants a quiet place for a nap; Gobbly Goat sets out in search of a tasty lunch; Portly Pig searches for the perfect mud puddle to roll in; and Diggity Dog loses — and finds — his favorite bone. The remaining two tackle higher emotional stakes: young Lucky Lamb explores the farm, but gets frightened when she realizes how far she is from her mother; and Higgly Hen looks for her six eggs, which all “grew legs” and ran off when her back was turned.
Nosy Crow’s signature style is evident here. British child actors narrate both the main text of the stories and pop-up speech bubbles with charm and humor (thankfully minimizing sing-songiness in the rhymes). Lively animated details are accompanied by animal sound effects and an instrumental arrangement of “Old MacDonald”. The clever interactive elements rotate through varied responses on subsequent taps. In addition to page-by-page progression through the plot, several panoramic scenes allow the characters to make a full circle around the farm as they search. A few counting and seek-and-find activities are subtly integrated into the stories. The straightforward menu offers “Read and Play” and “Read by Myself” options, and double-tap buttons prevent navigation mishaps.
Though simple, the stories provide some surprises, as when Gobbly Goat snacks on strawberries, cream, and the bowl. They also offer reassurance about common preschool anxieties — lost toys will be found, lost children will be reunited with their parents, and a yummy snack and a good night’s sleep are never far off.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 4.3 or later); $4.99. Recommended for preschool users.