Artistico by PlayArt Labs – Review



iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

gorgeous graphics, culture promotion

What we’d love to see…

better protection of in-app access to social media

Summary

turns fine art into kid-friendly puzzle

Our Rating

ArtisticoIsraeli-based developer PlayArt Labs brings together some of the world’s most recognizable and beautiful works of art in Artistico, a family-friendly, iPad-only puzzle that is free to download from the App Store.

During gameplay the user follows Artistico’s map, which covers various eras in art history including “The Roots of Modern Art,” “The Middle Ages,” “The Salon,” and “The Northern Renaissance.”  Additional levels featuring “Art Around the World,” “The Ancient World,” “Modern Art Before 1945,” and “The Italian Renaissance” will be added via developer update over the next several weeks.

To clear a level the player has to use a simple tap and drag gesture to place all of the painting’s missing pieces in the correct place before time runs out.  A player earns up to 3 stars for completing a screen and additional screens unlock as the player progresses through the game.

Each level includes up to nine screens to solve. Each screen contains a beautiful work of art.  When the screen is tapped it brings up the name of the work, the artist, and the year. For example, in the Salon, the first work is The Sifters, painted by Gustave Courbet in 1855. Tap the small information icon to bring up facts about each painting.

The game’s intuitive interface ensures that it won’t take long for most players to figure out what to do. The difficulty level varies from puzzle to puzzle, but will not be too tricky for younger children, and it helps if you can snag power ups by tapping on the bird in the corner. My 9-year-old-daughter found Artistico to be utterly engrossing and completed most of the map in one sitting.

Artistico doesn’t include adverts or App Store links, but it does offer unprotected links to its website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube trailer, so parents who limit a child’s access to these sites should take note. Additionally, users have the option of posting facts about a painting to Facebook. The game is rated 12+ for mild/infrequent nudity.

Whether one is an avid museumgoer or can’t tell a Dali from a DaVinci, Artistico is likely to appeal. While Artistico’s aim is not explicitly to teach art appreciation, its use of artwork as the basis for gameplay exposes the player to a range of beautiful artwork in a very low-key setting.

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Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

$


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Emily is a US-based freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. Follow her on Twitter: @whatwentwrite. She also writes for PadGadget at http://www.padgadget.com/author/emily/


A Word’s a Bird by Syntonie – Review



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What we love…

beautiful watercolor illustrations, impressive text

What we’d love to see…

more poems

Summary

fabulous intro to poetry for children

Our Rating

 

A Word's a BirdA Word’s a Bird, Spring Flies By In Rhymes by French developer Syntonie, the publishing imprint of Actialuna, SAS, brings Caldecott Award-quality to the iPad. The app includes sections for April, May, and June, as well as a “take off” poem that introduces the poetry collections’ shared theme.

 

To visit the poem for each month from the splash screen simply tap on the square with the month’s name. After doing so the reader encounters the poem for the given month as well as an accompanying animation.

 

iPad Screenshot 2The four poems, which the reader can enjoy in English or French, remain accessible to children even while employing poetic techniques including meter, rhyme, and metaphor. The book’s text offers parents an opportunity to introduce the idea of poetry to their children by asking questions such as, “how can a bird be like a word?”

 

The Northern Cardinal, loved by birders everywhere for his bright red plumage and cheerful song, guides the reader through the animation. Tap him and hear him sing an accurate rendition of his songs. The reader can also tap the underlined words in each poem to access a glossary of terms such as “veil” or “zigzag” that may not be familiar to the reader.

 

Each of the three months includes an interactive animated scene for the reader to explore. In April the reader can tap on flowers to play a simple scale, then hear the notes she plays repeated back by the ducklings in the pond, while in May she can explore peony blooms, and in June she can steer a sailboat helmed by a pair of dogs.

 

iPad Screenshot 4A Word’s A Bird includes no in-app purchases, adverts, or social media links. The app includes professional narration and word highlighting. Touch the Syntonie Publishing icon on the splash screen to watch a video on how this charming digital book was created.

 

In summary, A Word’s A Bird offers its reader child-friendly, seasonal poetry that fills a gap in the type of offerings typically found in the App Store.  From toddlers to tweens, this singular digi-book will appeal a wide variety of children.

A Word's a Bird
A Word's a Bird
by Syntonie

Category: Books, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 438.57 MB

$FREE

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Emily is a US-based freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. Follow her on Twitter: @whatwentwrite. She also writes for PadGadget at http://www.padgadget.com/author/emily/


Monsters University Storybook Deluxe By Disney -Review



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What we love…

impressive graphics, funny!

What we’d love to see…

no more ads in the settings section, addition of word highlighting.

Summary

reading and gaming fun for all ages, certain to be a hit with kids who are anticipating the film’s release.

Our Rating

 

Monsters University Storybook DeluxeMike and Sully will soon return in Monster’s University, a prequel to Disney’s über-successful movie Monster’s Inc. In preparation for the movies’ release the developers at Disney Interactive have just released Monster’s University Storybook Deluxe, a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad that is certain to be a hit with kids who are anticipating the film’s release.

 

As it begins, the story draws the reader in, inviting her to create an ID -– just like at a real college! Kids can also return later to create additional IDs for their siblings, friends, or even their stuffed animals. The reader can also decorate her face with monster stickers if she likes. Next, it’s time to choose a major: scaring, computer science or philosophy? You decide.

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After creating the ID, the reader arrives at the main screen where she has a choice to read or play. At this point she can also visit the settings to turn off the sound or music, or change the language from English to one of 5 other options.

 

The story introduces us to Mike, whose dream is to enter “the best scaring program in the world” at Monster’s University. As the story of how Mike and Sully became BFFs unfolds, the reader receives gentle prompts to investigate the app’s hot spots.

 

Upon opening the game section, the player chooses a monster as her avatar. The five games are variations on a theme. To earn a passing grade the player must use tilt controls to avoid obstacles. Players earn rewards for successfully completing each game.

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Despite all the fun kids will have reading and playing with this app, there are a few drawbacks. There were glitches in the ID-creation section. The app froze if I tried to use a photo from the camera roll or if I took a picture, then didn’t accept it for the ID and wanted to try again.  The story section lacks word highlighting. Additionally, the app includes advertising in the settings section that takes the reader directly to the app store.

 

In summary, Monster’s University interactive is a fun, colorful companion to its namesake Disney movie. Mike and Sully fans of all ages will love this deluxe storybook app, which user humor to champion the power of friendship. Hopefully, the developer can address the glitches in the ID-creation section in an update.

If you would like to buy this app please use this link Monsters University Storybook Deluxe – Disney

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Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

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Emily is a US-based freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. Follow her on Twitter: @whatwentwrite. She also writes for PadGadget at http://www.padgadget.com/author/emily/


Legend of Momotaro by Ghost Hand Games- Review



iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

stunning graphics, top-notch aesthetics

What we’d love to see…

remember reader’s place, better narration control

Summary

knock-out presentation of Japanese folk tale, with culture and vocab

Our Rating

 

The Legend of MomotaroApps such as Ghost Hand Games’  Legend of Momotaro , which blend traditional stories with cutting edge technology, are one of the reasons that I love the iPad.  This digital storybook offers the reader a visually stunning, detail-laden version of a Japanese folk tale about a young boy who is bestowed upon a childless couple after he arrives bobbing up the river hidden within a giant peach.  Momotaro (peach child) grows up to be a hero, albeit a very modest one, through bravery and perseverance.

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As one reads the story, the images unfurl horizontally, as a traditional Japanese paper scroll (Emakimono), rather than employing simulated page turns. The story’s text scrolls vertically within the horizontal frames. This blend of horizontal and vertical interaction coupled with the gentle swaying of the digital plum trees or bubbling teakettle helps draw the reader in.

Throughout the story there are interactive hot spots, which the reader may uncover by tapping the screen or gently shaking the iPad until the hot spots sparkle. Tapping the hot spot brings up an origami-like piece of paper with the word in English, a picture of the word, plus three ways to express written Japanese: Romaji (transliterated), Hiragana, and Kanji.

The app’s hot spots name many features of the natural world, as well as common animals. It also introduces Japan’s symbolic “language of flowers” to the reader, and gives the reader a chance to dress Momotaro in a variety of traditional armor.

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Readers of the Legend of Momotaro by Ghost Hand Games will enjoy the app’s lightly animated sequences. The story includes no adverts. Social media links are limited to a tiny share button at the story’s beginning and end, plus a similar button to share user-created armor. These links are not parent-protected.

While some pre-readers may enjoy the story, it’s aimed at readers age 7 and up. While the reader can opt to listen to Yuko Kishimoto’s lovely narration, the text is fairly dense and there is no word highlighting, making it more appropriate for independent readers.  It is a good book for younger children to read with parents.

The narration worked well if I listened to the entire story. Unfortunately, if I tried to read the story to myself, I found the narration kept restarting automatically as I scrolled through the text. Learning Japanese vocabulary and cultural information was very interesting, though I would have liked a brief definition of the differences between Romaji, Hiragana, and Kanji. Additionally, I wish the app would remember which vocabulary the reader has “found” even if the app is closed.

 

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Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

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Emily is a US-based freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. Follow her on Twitter: @whatwentwrite. She also writes for PadGadget at http://www.padgadget.com/author/emily/

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