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App Review of the Week

Each week we publish a review of a new app people are — or should be — talking about.

We are always on the lookout for great kids’ apps and e-books to recommend to our readers. If you would like to submit an app or e-book for review consideration, please send an iOS promo code with all release information (developer, price, release date, supported devices, etc.) to kbircher (at) hbook.com. Please keep in mind that a submission does not guarantee review.

Toca Dance app review

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So, you think you can dance? Bust a move with Toca Dance (March 2016). Much like Siân’s fave Toca Band, this latest Toca Boca app is weird and wonderful, with an emphasis on creative, exploratory play. (I also love the quieter Toca Nature.) First choose your performers, then outfit them with costumes and accessories. Then […]

LumiKids Beach app review

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Wanna go to the beach? Great — grab your iPad! Using the same approachable format as LumiKids Backyard and LumiKids Snow, LumiKids Beach (Lumos Labs, June 2015) provides a side-scrolling scene of a beach with six activity “stations.” These include three instant-gratification, tap-to-play activities (matching a child or a friendly monster-child to a coordinating toy/accessory, […]

Doctor Who Comic Maker app review

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As a fan of both Doctor Who and comics, how could I resist the siren song of that familiar theremin theme emanating from BBC’s official Doctor Who Comic Maker app (March 2016)? Similar to HarperCollins/Night & Day Studio’s Big Nate: Comix by U!, this app lets you write your own adventures for the Doctor and […]

Hansel and Gretel app review

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If you’re in the mood to be a little bit scared, a little bit charmed, and maybe a little bit hungry for sugary houses, the Hansel and Gretel app by Fusee (2015) might just be for you. On each page of this adaptation, you can listen to the (sometimes forced) rhyming text and follow along; […]

Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty app review

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Potty training is the worst. Mr. Rogers is the best. PBS Kids’s animated television show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood — which, per the Fred Rogers Company “builds on the pioneering PBS series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” — has a new potty-training app, Stop & Go Potty (February 2016), starring the Daniel Tiger characters. The home screen features Daniel […]

Sago Mini Robot Party app review

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“This is a partying robot with a sock hand, ’cause I gave it a sock hand,” I told Katie. “Do what you gotta do,” she replied. I was in the mood to give my robot a sock hand, so a sock hand he had. And yes, a sock hand can make cupcakes. On the off-chance […]

Lil’ Red: An Interactive Story app review

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What’s black and white and red all over? Lil’ Red: An Interactive Story (2013), Brian Main’s savvy digital retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” This light version of the fairy tale more or less follows the traditional trajectory but minimizes scariness. Naive Lil’ Red sets out through the woods for her grandmother’s, meets a hungry […]

iLearnWith Max & Ruby: Science! app review

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iLearnWith Max & Ruby: Science! (Tribal Nova, 2013) features the beloved characters from Rosemary Wells’s books and TV show playing backyard games to illustrate some basic scientific concepts. As the app opens, Max and Ruby stand in front of three game options: “Water Blast,” “Ball-O-Rama,” and “Make Believe.” Just tap the game you’d like to […]

Empire Run app review

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The setup of Empire Run (Planet H/Red Games, 2014) is similar to another Planet H/Red Games app, Frontier Heroes (and with the same caveat about some arguably stereotypical images; see details below) several sections, themed by historical time period, each contain a few games; each game has a number of different levels which allow the […]

MarcoPolo Ocean app review

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MarcoPolo Ocean (MarcoPolo, 2014) — in the same series as MarcoPolo Arctic — introduces young children to an ocean biome. A blue sea with gentle waves appears on the main screen as vaguely Caribbean-sounding background music plays. Before beginning, you can orient yourself by investigating underwater, looking at some fish, bobbing the buoy, etc. The […]