Subscribe to The Horn Book

Endless Alphabet app review

I’m glad to see a new addition from Callaway Digital Arts, developer of the well-executed Monster at the End of This Book app. In the educational Endless Alphabet (January 2013), young users explore the alphabet, spelling, and vocabulary.

Users may begin the app with any letter of the alphabet by tapping it on the root menu, or begin with A and work through to Z. The narrator speaks a word beginning with that letter as it appears in all-uppercase on the notebook paper–style background. Then a gaggle of friendly monsters runs across, displacing the letters. Users are invited to spell the word by dragging the scattered letters into their appropriate order.

Touching each of the brightly patterned letters (with monster-worthy features of their own) prompts the narrator to say its name and the letter to vocalize one of its sounds. Users are then treated to a short, humorous animation of the monsters explicating the word’s meaning, followed by a clear definition from the narrator. Many of the definitions include some kid-friendly commentary, as in “Lick: When you lick something you are using your tongue to clean, taste, or wet it. You can lick ice cream, but you shouldn’t lick your shoes” and “Tangle: A tangle is a mess of rope or strings. Hair gets tangled all the time.”

the monsters rock out

The narrator’s tone and cadence are natural, but the personality-filled monsters and letters — all with individualized voices — steal the show. Plenty of unobtrusive repetition helps solidify connections between the words, their definitions, and their spelling. Cut paper–looking illustrations, funny sound effects, and upbeat music make the app an even more engaging experience.  Users may easily replay any of the animations or definitions and navigate forwards or backward through the alphabet. The developer will automatically update the app weekly with new words and their corresponding animations (hence the “endless alphabet”).

Callaway has made an admirable effort to represent different parts of speech and to avoid typical alphabet book fodder in their word choices. While some of the vocabulary (e.g., cooperate, demolish, gargantuan, hilarious) is likely beyond preschoolers new to the alphabet and intended instead for elementary-age kids, other words (e.g., kind, rainstorm, sticky, umbrella, zipper) are accessible for the youngest users.

Available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $5.99. Recommended for preschool users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.



  1. Hi,

    Can you imagine how your life would look like if you would have known 3 times more things? To help kids read more we have created a game that increases their speed of reading so they could read more in the same amount of time.
    Speed Reading Academy is a fun, educational app, giving you the support when trying to teach your kid how to read faster. This is a well-designed game that helps kids in an interactive and fun way to increase their speed of reading without even realizing it while optimizing their time spent using the iPad for learning and reading.
    I realise you are probably receiving tons of such e-mails so I prepared a short media kit that you can download from our website at
    I would very much appreciate posting an article about our app on your site. Should you need additional details do not hesitate to contact me.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind