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Metamorphabet app review

metamorphabet menuIn Metamorphabet (Vectorpark, 2015), each (uppercase) letter of the alphabet appears on a brightly colored background. Tap the featured letter to initiate its animated transformation into a short series of visual representations of words beginning with that letter: J to jiggle to juggle to jelly fish. A somewhat monotone female narrator speaks the letter’s name, then reads the related words as they appear on the screen. Tap a word to hear it read again. The illustrations — with a minimalist, cut-paper look and a different limited palette for every letter — are stylized but approachable.

The illustrations, animations, and sound effects are full of warm humor, with plenty of surprises in both the word choices and the metamorphoses themselves. Some sequences are poetically abstract, as when petals drop off the flowers in garden, float into the air, and become ghosts. One of my favorite series: D becomes a door, which opens to reveal a sunrise for dawn. Dawn then becomes a sunny day with a few fluffy clouds in the sky; the clouds assume the shapes of various animals and walk through the open door to portray daydream.

metamorphabet daydream

A star icon appears in the upper right corner to indicate when you’ve gone through all of the words for a specific letter, but the app offers lots of opportunity for exploratory play with the interactive animations. Roll Earth around (with an elephant balanced precariously atop it) or intertwine a snake and its shadow for as long as you like before moving on. An icon in the upper left corner allows you to revisit any of the previous letters (there’s no skipping ahead, though).

This app won’t be particularly helpful to little ones just learning their letters or building basic vocabulary and reading skills — but then, that’s not the point. What is the point? An engaging exploration of out-of-the-box thinking, inside the familiar framework of the alphabet.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $3.99. Recommended for 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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