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Mother Gray and Little Blue app review

Mother Gray and Little Blue (Oken Studios Limited, 2017; iOS and Android) is an interactive storybook app about a mother gray whale and her baby’s migration north during the winter. They need to leave their lagoon off the coast of California and join the other whales at “the top of the world,” where food is more plentiful. Along the way, the two encounter other marine and arctic creatures and glimpse the northern lights. A brief animation introduces mother and baby — the latter named “Little Blue” because he’s bluer in color than the other calves born around the same time. The app then opens a menu with several options for enjoying the story: choose to be read to or to read it on your own.

I started my journey with “Read to me” mode, which (like the “Auto play” option) features a calming narration and individual character voices. Each word of the text is highlighted as it’s spoken; you can tap a specific word to hear it read again. Once the whole page has been read, there’s a pause in which you can tap objects in the illustrations to make them move or make noise. Tap the arrow at bottom right to turn the page when you’re done playing. Friendly illustrations, reminiscent of Marcus Pfister’s in The Rainbow Fish, enhance the simple text, especially when coupled with the soothing background music and subtle sound effects.

The “Add to story” mode is the most interactive: tap to add animated objects (for example, a diver or a submarine) from a drop-down menu to the story. Be sure to keep your eyes open for keys in this section; by selecting the right one you unlock a treasure chest (although it’s unclear what you gain by unlocking these chests). Similarly, find and tap oysters on the ocean floor to open them and hear a few seconds of music.

Overall, this is an enjoyable story app, though I do wish there were more interactive elements incorporated into it. The developer recommends it for kids aged six to eight; however, the “Read to me” and “Auto play” options make it appealing and accessible for younger kids as well.

Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (requires iOS 9.1 or later) and Android devices; $2.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

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About Katie Sutton

Katie Sutton is an editorial intern for The Horn Book.

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