In Goodnight Safari (2012), a cozy bedtime storybook app from Polk Street Press, users propel the narrative forward by helping wildlife from the African savanna prepare for lights out. Once basic touchscreen activities, such as reuniting a baby zebra with its mother or dunking a baby rhino in a pool of cool water for a bath, have been completed, an arrow appears at the bottom of the screen to indicate that it’s time to move on to the next page. But feel free to poke around anyway — extra animations and sounds are hidden throughout. My favorite Easter egg is a butterfly animation on the zebra page. I stopped to play with it for several minutes. Try it!
Luciana Navarro Powell’s collage-style art adds depth and texture to this simple interactive story. Each furry creature appears to be cut from fabric, giving the cuddly characters a stuffed-animal quality. Soft colors and a background of nighttime sounds (i.e. crickets chirping) enhance the soporific effect.
The app includes “read to me” and “read myself” features, though the read myself option is better suited for parents reading to their children. Newly independent readers will likely find the content facile. Additionally, a “pick a page” option will cater to repeat readers who wish to play certain activities more than once.
While the app itself has been out since 2012, Goodnight Safari Playtime ($1.99), a collection of supplemental activities to practice colors, counting, etc., has been recently released as an in-app purchase with parent lock.
Activities aside, this sleepy story induces a quiet stillness, perfect whether you’re winding down for the evening or relaxing for a midday nap.
Available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.3 or later); free. Recommended for preschool users.