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Hat Monkey app review

hat monkey menuLet me say straight out that I don’t like monkeys. But I set my personal primate feelings aside to look at app Hat Monkey (2014), trusting in both creator Chris Haughton and developer Fox & Sheep — whose Nighty Night I liked a lot — to provide an enjoyable experience. Happily, the breakdancing, “meep-meep!”-ing Monkey soon won me over.

The app opens with Monkey dancing to surf jazz music, then offers a simple menu (scene selection, language options, a link to info about Haughton’s books, and a link to download more Fox & Sheep apps). From there the app begins a prompt-and-activity structure (“Monkey is coming! Can you open the door?”) that continues throughout the app as Monkey makes himself at home.

hat monkey hiding

“Monkey is hiding. Can you find him?”

The illustrations feature stylized shapes and a limited palette of hot pinks, purples, and oranges in high contrast with Monkey’s royal blue.

What could easily be familiar Pat the Bunny territory instead takes a meta, super-modern direction. After the prompt “Can you send Monkey a text?” choose one of four emoji to send to Monkey — who’s busy reading Haughton’s picture book A Bit Lost, by the way — and watch his cute and funny responses.

hat monkey text   hat monkey reading
(Send the banana, and Monkey surreptitiously licks his phone.) Other prompts include giving Monkey a high-five, learning Monkey’s sweet dance moves, talking to him on the phone using your device’s microphone, and playing saxophones together. The app ends with reading Monkey a bedtime story (Haughton’s Oh No, George!, of course) and turning off the light, sending him off to contented, lightly snoring sleep.

Preschool- and early-primary-perfect humor — including a more-endearing-than-gross fart joke — is communicated through all the app’s elements: the deadpan text; the illustrations; the animations, especially in the movements of Monkey’s huge, expressive eyes; and sound effects. Read a making-of blog post by Haughton here.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $0.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.

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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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