National Poetry Month is upon us, and this week’s app review comes from renowned children’s poet Jack Prelutsky. The New Kid on the Block (Wanderful Interactive Storybooks, 2013), an interactive poetry app based on Prelutsky’s book of the same name (HarperCollins, 1984), features eighteen poems, a cast of strangely delightful characters, and exuberant animations.
From the home page, a guitar-wielding cartoon Prelutsky acts as a guide to the app, directing users to explore and pick a poem they’d like to read. An aspiring folk singer, he even sings a song about an unfriendly alligator while he waits.
Users can either select “read to me” to hear the poems read aloud — some narrated by Prelutsky himself — or “let me play” to touch-activate each word individually, an excellent feature for emerging readers who can build each sentence or create their own.
Brimming with wit, Prelutsky’s wordplay and outrageous punchlines are enhanced by the silliness of the art, while the animations mirror the sound and sense of his verse. Each noun in the text is paired with an accompanying illustration or animation, while each verb is paired with a visual action.
With subjects ranging from dancing bananas to bloodthirsty vampires, Prelutsky’s familiar poems still manage to capture the joyous absurdity of imagination, while the new interactive features shine a spotlight on the way his language works. This app is perfect for entertainment as well as education.
For another great poetry app, check out my review of Calef Brown’s Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny: Pick One. Draw It. Make It Funny.