Children's Apps

Cinderella: The Top Picture Book App of 2011

We’ve kissed a lot of toads this year in app-land. Or maybe a more apt metaphor for this post would be along the lines of wedging our feet into a lot of ill-fitting slippers.

And while we’ve also stumbled across some real gems (see last week’s post on the Best Picture Book Apps of 2011), our heart belongs to one big winner for the year. I’d like to devote this space to my No. 1 picture book app for 2011 with a few reasons why. So let’s cut to the chase and reveal our winner. Drumroll please. . .

Nosy Crow’s Cinderella takes a familiar tale and makes it extraordinary. Young readers can follow along with the text, then take a few moments on each page to interact with the story:

  • Help Cinderella clean up the kitchen by clicking and dragging fruits into the fruitbowl, stacking up the cups and plates, and throwing logs onto the fire.
  • Get a little silly with the Stepsisters by dressing those soft-headed tyrants in ridiculous outfits for the ball.
  • Work with Fairy Godmother in the garden to turn the mice into footmen, the pumpkin into a carriage, and all the familiar ball-preparations. These tasks require real skills and include some fun surprises, which keep my young readers completely engaged.

But best of all is the ball itself, where Cinderella gets a few minutes alone with her prince. Nosy Crow does a great job making their books fun and a little unpredictable, and their Cinderella is no exception. Readers can have the happy couple dance a traditional waltz, break out their disco moves, or even go Bollywood. My first-grader comes down with a serious case of the giggles every time we get to the dance scene.

What appeals to me about Nosy Crow’s apps is the emphasis on building literacy skills. These are, after all, books. And the audience is beginning readers. Nosy Crow’s app hits the mark at many age levels and abilities, as more savvy readers can explore some of the nuanced humor throughout the story and early readers can tap on the characters to generate more speech bubbles that give clues about surprises on the page.

So what makes Nosy Crow’s Cinderella No. 1? It’s the perfect balance of a variety of factors:

Top-notch illustrations
Lively writing that puts a fresh spin on a familiar story
Original interactive features
A commitment to early literacy
Strong sense of fun

This sets the bar high for other app producers breaking into this new medium of children’s literature, where the lines between book, movie, and game are often blurred in the push to attract kids. Hats off to Nosy Crow for getting it right, and having so much fun in the process.

DotMomming explores the intersection of parenting, technology, and children’s literature, written by children’s author Kate Hannigan Issa. Read more posts on the dotMomming site on Blogspot.