Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (May 2013), an animated picture book app from developer Twin Sisters, offers an extra musical twist on this classic nursery rhyme. The app features a standard read-to-me option with an adult male narrator, as well as a sing-to-me option with an adult female singer and children’s chorus. One by one the monkeys bump their heads and end up tucked in bed, bandaged, and collectively dreaming of a giant trampoline. The whole story culminates in a playlist of six silly songs perfect for singing along.
Red dots indicate touch-activated animations and sound effects, while white outlines indicate moveable objects that can be dragged across the screen. Though Patrick Girouard’s illustrations capture the rambunctious monkey antics just right, the app’s impressive audio elements outshine the repetitive animations at every turn.
Emerging readers can tap a word or swipe a phrase to hear it read aloud, which is so much more effective than the typically too slow or too fast text highlighters, though it may have led me to construct several of my own creative sentences (“One little doctor jumped on the monkeys…”). It’s an entertaining feature to monkey around with.
In addition to the lackluster animations, my only other complaints are that 1) there is no navigation tool or home button, so moving from the end to the beginning takes quite a few page turns, and 2) you cannot activate more than one touchscreen element at a time — meaning that if you tap “read to me” to begin the narration and then tap a red dot, the narration will stop immediately and the red dot will activate, which can be frustrating for those of us who enjoy tapping around.
Minor irritations aside, this app’s musical repertoire is worth going ape over.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $1.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users.