Scruffy Kitty (Winged Chariot, 2010), a charming interactive e-book aimed at toddlers and preschoolers, tells the simple story of an alley cat’s typical day on the street — from mouse-chasing to garbage-eating to singing out of tune. But when bedtime approaches, Scruffy Kitty finds himself outside a cozy house looking in.
The slight text leaves plenty of room for art to fill in the narrative, making this digital application function very much like a traditional picture book, complete with simulation page turns. Sparse use of animation and sound effects enhance the story without gilding the lily — animations appear once per page. However, exploration can be frustrating because touching the screen anywhere outside the hidden animation area results in unwanted page turns.
The app offers narration in five languages — Dutch, English, French, Japanese, and Spanish — as well as a “read myself” option. Additionally, a sticker activity accessible from the main menu features a nighttime scene with sticker selections pulled straight from the book. When your masterpiece is complete, you can save it to the image library on your mobile device.
Young users will likely snicker at Scruffy Kitty’s antics and delight in his transformation to a spoiled house cat.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 3.1.3 or later); $4.99. Recommended for preschool users.