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Yellow, Red, Blue and If I Get Angry, Grey app review

With no text, no narration, and not much narrative, Yellow, Red, Blue and If I Get Angry, Grey (WARE’S ME, March 2013) is perhaps not an app for everyone. However, for users willing to explore, it offers opportunities for self-directed play.

The Italian developer based the app on an Italian-language book of the same name, written and illustrated by Alessandro Sanna (Kite Edizioni, 2010). In “read” mode, the app introduces the titular primary colors, first on white screens on which users draw freestyle with their fingers, then in the form of a yellow owl, red/magenta rabbit, and blue cat. The animals are all painted with simple teardrop shapes and a few lines and dots; users can drag and drop or rotate the components of each figure to create new images, or shake their device to float the pieces around the screen.

The app then invites users to mix these three basic colors to create additional hues (green, indigo, and true red, which show up later in the animals’ clothing). Each animal and its associated color is also represented by a piano or wordless vocal melody; as the colors blend, the melodies blend and harmonize as well.

A gray wolf appears, presumably representing the mixing of all colors: its soundtrack is a more fully orchestrated version of the previous themes, and when dragged around the screen, the wolf flashes back and forth between gray and multicolored, with a sparkling rainbow trail. At the app’s conclusion, all four animals appear together, laughing. Despite the title, no other emotions — or indeed, any personality traits — are attributed to the animals in the app.

A “play” section contains four 25-piece puzzles featuring the colors and characters, as well as a make-your-own kaleidoscope tool.

Some users may find themselves wondering what it all means; others will be too busy experimenting to care. A word of caution: the musical riffs will be firmly lodged in your head by the time you’re through playing.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.1 or later); $0.99. Recommended for preschool and primary 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.

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