Loud Crow Interactive adds to its line-up of Peanuts holiday apps with the 40th-anniversary release of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (November 2013), based on the classic 1973 animated TV special. Charlie Brown and his sister Sally plan to spend Thanksgiving at their grandmother’s house — but then Peppermint Patty invites herself, Marcie, and Franklin over to Charlie Brown’s house for the holiday meal. When the impromptu feast of buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, and candy doesn’t live up to Patty’s Thanksgiving meal expectations, Marcie helps Patty recognize the tough spot she has put Chuck in. Eventually the whole group joins Charlie Brown and Sally as they go “Over the River and Through the Woods” to grandmother’s house for a real Thanksgiving dinner.
The cartoon’s famous opening scene in which Charlie Brown disastrously attempts to kick a football has been relegated to the title page, and Snoopy’s humorous battle with a deckchair has been cut entirely. Thankfully, however, most of the original voices, dialogue, and scenes (such as Linus’s prayer and mini history lesson about the first Thanksgiving) from the cartoon remain. Stephen Shea, the original Linus voice actor, narrates, and music from the TV special — including Vince Guaraldi’s vocal track “Little Birdie,” a rarity amongst the instrumental jazz tunes that usually accompany Peanuts cartoons — sets the mood.
The app offers a thirty-minute “autoplay” mode for the youngest users plus “read to me” and “read myself” options. The swipe page-turn feature is sometimes over- or under-sensitive to a user’s touch. There is little interactivity: users help Snoopy add napkins to the table and discover a hidden leaf on each page (there’s no way to keep track of how many leaves you’ve found, and the activity itself seems a bit arbitrary). A pull-down thumbnail menu makes for easy navigation from scene to scene.
Though it’s not flashy or filled with bells and whistles, this app serves as a reminder that Thanksgiving isn’t just about what we eat, but also about feeling “thankful for being together” — a nice sentiment to keep in mind as we gather to celebrate with friends and families. It’s also a great way to occupy a child’s time while driving to that holiday dinner, waiting for the food to be ready, or during the after-turkey-dinner-laziness that inevitably ensues.
Available for iPad, iPhone, iTouch (requires iOS 5.0 or later; $5.99), and Android devices ($4.99). Also see the Horn Book’s reviews of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! and A Charlie Brown Christmas.