Cute kid Sloan Graham, the bear-suit-clad main character of Forest Giant’s nonfiction app I Love Mountains (2012), has a passionate interest in the titular landforms. She shares fun geological facts about mountains through nineteen interactive pages, beginning by describing the three different types of mountains and the plate tectonics that form them over time. She goes on to highlight the largest mountains on Earth and Mars, and lists various flora and fauna found within mountain ecosystems.
The geological concepts may seem advanced for preschool and early elementary–school users, but effective visualizations (magma pushing up through the Earth’s crust to form a volcano) and comparisons within the text (“Earth is more like a jigsaw puzzle than a smooth marble”) reduce the information into easily digestible parts.
The childlike simplicity of Amanda Joyce Bishop’s textured collage art adds a playful sense of wonder to the scientific discussion. Basic animations (i.e. snow falling, clouds moving, rockets launching) and easy touchscreen activities push the story forward at the users’ pace. Each animation is clearly marked with a visual directive — arrows indicate to swipe up, down, backward, or forward, while Xs indicate to tap certain places for activation. There are no hidden interactive elements.
This app skillfully captures the grandeur of its subject matter while seamlessly combining information with entertainment.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); free. Recommended for primary users.