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Creature-feature apps

little kitten

These preschool-oriented apps invite young users to explore and learn with new furry (and feathered and…googly-eyed?) friends. Little Kitten opens with a brief (and optional) wordless video introducing our hero, a gray tabby kitten. Following this intro, the kitten — now in a loving home and christened “Crumbs” — plays in the child-owner’s bedroom. In […]

The King’s Ears app review

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Based on Katarina Jovanovic’s 2008 picture book The King Has Goat Ears, illustrated by Phillipe Béhà (Tradewinds Books), The King’s Ears app (Rascal Media, 2016; iOS only) adds music, movement, and interaction to this retelling of a Serbian folktale. Tap your way through the story (which you can choose to have read aloud to you, […]

Pet Bingo app review

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I wish I had had Pet Bingo (Duck Duck Moose/Khan Academy, 2015; iOS and Android) when I was in elementary school. It combines one of my favorite things, pets, with one of my least favorite things, the necessary evil that is math, for math practice that is actually kinda…fun. (Here’s another math app I like […]

Busy Shapes app review

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Busy Shapes (Edoki Academy, 2014; iOS only) is an engaging sorting and problem-solving app based on the work of education expert Jean Piaget. The app begins with a simple matching exercise: drag a shape to the same-shaped hole and drop it in. These brightly colored shapes represent physical objects such as blocks, sponges, flowers, and […]

Me app review

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Remember Dr. Seuss’s My Book About Me? Me by Tinybop (November 2016; iOS only) is a lot like that. You start by creating an avatar for yourself, choosing from a number of options for the shapes and hues of your face, your eyes, etc. There are enough options that I found myself looking in a […]

Little Kitten app review

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I admit, I am a total sucker for all things cat-related. But Fox & Sheep’s new app Little Kitten (Fox & Sheep in partnership with Squeakosaurus, January 2017; iOS only) has a lot going for it besides the cute-kitty factor. A brief (and optional) wordless video introduces our hero, a gray tabby kitten left on […]

Fallen London app review

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“Thirty years ago, London was stolen by bats. Now, Hell is close and immortality is cheap, but the screaming has largely stopped…” In Fallen London (Failbetter Games, 2015; iOS and Android), I — a shadowy being of unspecified gender, just escaped from prison — stalk the streets of a Hell-adjacent Victorian London with an Alluring Companion for a cohort […]

Planet Lettra app review

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Upon opening, Planet Lettra (Studio Goojaji, 2015; iOS only) offers the option of taking a young user–friendly tour. I recommend starting there — the app looks simple, but there are a number of quirks that would’ve taken me a while to figure out without the help. As the tour explains (in rhyme), Planet Lettra has […]

Sir David Attenborough’s Story of Life app review

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Released in honor of his ninetieth birthday, Sir David Attenborough’s Story of Life (BBC Worldwide, November 2016; iOS and Android) spans his six-decade career as a naturalist and and the voice of the BBC’s wildlife programming. The app — which is, incredibly, free — contains over one thousand video clips from more than forty BBC […]

Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss app review

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When you open Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss (Penguin, 2015; iOS and Android), a British-accented voice welcomes you to “the ghastly world of The Twits.” Then you’re ushered through an overgrown yard and into the Twits’ dining room, with art inspired by Quentin Blake’s classic illustrations. The app consists of a single game with a […]