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Toca Tailor: Fairy Tales app review

Toca Tailor: Fairy Tales (Toca Boca, 2012; iOS only) is a fairy-tale-themed companion to the original Toca Tailor app, in which you can “make” clothes by tailoring size, choosing fabrics, and adding accoutrements. Click on one of the two child characters (a light-skinned girl and a darker-skinned boy), and your chosen figure is brought to […]

GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app review

I first became aware of toy start-up GoldieBlox when I saw its smart commercial “The Princess Machine,” in which a group of young girls engineer a complex Rube Goldberg machine using (mostly) stereotypically “girl” toys. The mission of GoldieBlox and inventor/CEO Debbie Sterling is “to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of […]

Apps to beat the summer slump

These nonfiction apps introduce new information, reinforce familiar concepts with a fresh approach, and strengthen developing skills to encourage engaged learning throughout summer — and all year long. In Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System (based on the 2013 nonfiction book Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space), cat cosmonaut Professor Astro Cat takes you on a […]

Sago Mini Forest Flyer app review

My colleagues and I are big Sago Mini fans, and we’re slowly working our way through the developer’s entire oeuvre. Next up, an oldie but a goodie: Forest Flyer (2013; iOS and Android), another exploratory play app in the mold of Ocean Swimmer and Fairy Tales. Choose a spring day or a wintry (vaguely Christmas-y) […]

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Jungle app review

A companion to Axel Scheffler’s flip book of the same name, Flip Flap Jungle (Nosy Crow, 2015; iOS only) allows you to create seemingly infinite animals by combining the top half of one and the bottom half of another. Want to see what a parakeet might look like with four furry legs? Swipe the bottom of […]

Toca Dance app review

So, you think you can dance? Bust a move with Toca Dance (March 2016; iOS only). 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 […]

LumiKids Beach app review

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; iOS and Android) 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 […]

Doctor Who Comic Maker app review

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; iOS only)? Similar to HarperCollins/Night & Day Studio’s Big Nate: Comix by U!, this app lets you write your own adventures for the […]

Hansel and Gretel app review

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; iOS only) might just be for you. On each page of this adaptation, you can listen to the (sometimes forced) rhyming text and […]

Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty app review

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; iOS and Android), starring the Daniel Tiger characters. The home […]