Martha Speaks Story Maker app review

martha speaks title screen

Create customized stories and practice vocabulary with loquacious mutt Martha in PBS Kids’s Martha Speaks Story Maker app (2012). The main section of the app functions as a sort of Martha Speaks–themed MadLibs. Choose from four dog characters — Martha, Skits, Lily, and Pops — for your story’s star, then pick from two settings. These […]

The Everything Machine app review

everything machine title screen

Much like in their Human Body app, Tinybop’s The Everything Machine (2015) provides an opportunity for experimental play and experiential learning. Here users set up virtual circuits between electrical components to accomplish tasks such as power a (digital) light bulb, play sound, or take a picture. The app makes the most of the device’s utilities […]

Niko and the Sword of Light app review

niko title screen

In Niko and the Sword of Light (Imaginism/Studio NX, 2013) the titular young boy is the only Warrior of the Light left. He has in his possession the last relic of his people: The Sword of Light. Forged by the gods, the sword is Niko’s key to saving his world by ridding it of the […]

Toca Nature app review

toca nature title screen

Siân ♥s Toca Band. While Toca Nature (Toca Boca, 2014) is more contemplative — no sunglasses-sporting emcee hollering “We rockin’ it!” here — it provides a similarly satisfying experience of experimental play. As the app opens, you are presented with a square chunk of landscape, floating in pleasantly dreamy, starry space. A few trees and […]

Sago Mini Monsters app review

sago mini monsters

When I opened the Sago Mini Monsters app (Sago Sago, 2014), a blank-faced turquoise monster’s head was poking out of green goo. I dragged her from the muck and named her Lucy. (Just in my head. There’s no reading or writing involved in this app.) Five different-colored circles appeared at the bottom of the screen. […]

Steam Train, Dream Train app review


Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld, of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site fame, chug along with the digital book app edition of their goodnight-train picture book Steam Train, Dream Train (Oceanhouse Media, February 2015). Just as with the Construction Site digital book app, this one includes soothing narration that can be turned on or off; you can […]

Billy’s Booger app review

billy's booger title screen

The Billy’s Booger storybook app (Moonbot Studios, June 2015) begins with an introduction, straight from the front flap of Billy’s Booger: A Memoir (Sorta) (Atheneum, also released in June): “This is Billy…one day Billy entered a contest. He made a book. About Me!” The “me” in question? A little green guy in a superhero cape […]

Toca Band app review

toca band title screen

Having just experienced the sheer bizarre joy that is Toca Band (Toca Boca, 2012), I fear it may be impossible to express exactly why this app is so much fun. But I will try. Oh, I will try. The setting is simple: we are in a park. A large, boldly-hued stage with three tiers is […]

The Bedsby Tales app review

bedsby menu

Tales from the Crypt fans who’ve been dying to introduce the next generation to episodic horror will be all over The Bedsby Tales (Jacob Duane Johnson, March 2015), a series of short stories for middle graders with some interactive elements. “Episode 1: Thoughts of Unknown” begins with a dubious welcome from a shadowy-creature storyteller in […]

Motion Math: Cupcake! app review

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I am not a math person. But I am a cupcake person, so math about making and selling cupcakes is far more appealing. Motion Math: Cupcake! (Motion Math, April 2015) allowed me to enact my cupcake-bakery (cupcakery?) daydreams. As the app opens, you set up shop with a one-oven bakery facility, a cute sea-green Vespa […]