Digital reproductions of beautiful watercolor-painted collages from some of Eric Carle’s most popular picture books take center stage as “3D pop-ups” in a new, colorful app, The Very Hungry CaterpillarTM & Friends – Play & Explore (StoryToys, 2014). Though this activity app for the youngest users does not contain any of Carle’s stories, readers familiar with his books will recognize many characters including Mister Seahorse, the Very Quiet Cricket, Brown Bear, and of course, the Very Hungry Caterpillar. And for those users new to Carle’s work, the app serves as a broad introduction to his books.
The app’s main feature is a brief informational book, with eight “Did You Know?” spreads of facts about animals and plants. Each section is followed by a related narrated game, quiz, puzzle, or other activity: users feed the caterpillar (Fruit! Not “sweet treats”!), search for or identify animals (“Where is Brown Bear’s cub?”; “Who has a long horn on her head?”), collect berries and bugs, and grow their own flower from a tiny seed. Upon successful completion of each activity, users obtain badges (Quiz Whizz Badge, Sealife Spotter Badge, Puzzle Ace Badge, etc.).
More activities are available with in-app purchases: a Jigsaw Puzzle Pack with three puzzles to complete (and four levels of difficulty for each puzzle); a spot-the-difference game; and a 3D Sticker Book Pack.
This visually stunning app offers plenty of opportunities for early childhood development, from counting and color/shape recognition to tackling more difficult concepts like memory, seek-and-find, and distinguishing differences. The instructions are easy to follow, the lively animation is responsive to users’ touch, and the app only requires simple tapping and swiping actions to use, making it a fully engaging experience for preschoolers. Options include a Read to Me, Read it Myself, or Autoplay feature, a music on/off switch, and five language choices (English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese).