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“In the air…” and “On the water…”

planes app 2It’s Byron Barton’s Planes (March) and Boats (April) in app format from Oceanhouse Media and HarperCollins. Matching the books’ engaging simplicity and directness, both apps enhance the print versions without distracting users with over-the-top interactive elements.

The text is read by an enthusiastic narrator, whether the sound is on or off. If you choose to turn the sound off, however, you won’t hear the various plane motor sounds or boat noises. Or the workers’ banter or the plane/cruise ship passengers’ chatter. Tap a word in the text or object in the illustrations to hear and see that word (e.g., cloud, people, plane).

Boats by Byron Barton

Users can move the planes/boats and a few other objects across the screen, but that’s about the extent of the digital tricks. More app-savvy toddlers might be disappointed, but I think this bare-bones adaptation approach preserves the original books’ integrity.

Both Planes and Boats available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (require iOS 5.0 or later); $1.99. Recommended for preschool users.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. Hilary Hertzoff says:

    I love seeing the app reviews here. However it would be useful if you listed the platform (iPhone/iPad or Android). Too often I’ve been disappointed by a review of a wonderful app only to discover that it isn’t available on Android devices.


  2. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    Thanks so much for the suggestion, Hilary! We’ll definitely keep that in mind for future app reviews. (For the record, we’re primarily using apps on our office iPad.)

  3. Hilary Hertzoff says:

    I figured that out after the first few times I tried to find the apps in the Android store, but it’s good to have it confirmed.

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