Tuesday 10 April 2012

Kids' app review : Tales for Great Grandchildren

When we were approached and asked to review a new story app called Tales for Great Grandchildren, I thought the concept sounded great but I wasn't sure how well it would appeal to modern kids. The app creators explain : "The app, Tales for Great Grandchildren, is an illustrated collection of 13 stories drawn from the mythology and folklore of India and Nepal, which John Jackson encountered on his travels over 30 years ago. It is aimed primarily at children aged 7 to 12. [...] One of the founding principles of JJ Books is to bring the magical experience of reading a traditional illustrated hardback into the 21st century." As I said, I love the concept but I do have a few reservations.

The problem is, modern kids are so used to everything being high tech and all-singing, all-dancing, all-interactive-play-and-electronic-wizardry, that they're often, initially at least, slightly underwhelmed when we get back to basics. Have you ever noticed how, when you give a cuddly toy to a toddler, the first thing they do is press his tummy, ears and paws to see if it's going to spring to life and start playing music or talking to them ? We've already reviewed many story book apps here at The Madhouse and every time, there are extra mini games and interactive pictures with things that you can click on to make things happen or to hear sound effects. With this app, if you click on the text, a picture appears, showing someone in bed, who moves and makes a snoring sound. As I expected, the Madhouse Mini-testers clicked all over the place but there was no interactivity and, even when you change pages within the story, if you click again, the same picture comes up.

The idea of bringing to life old fashioned tales is a good one and if this was a hardbacked book, I think it would be really appealing. (It was in fact published as a limited edition hardback book in October 2011.) But by bringing this to the iPad, the expectations will be for something more high tech and interactive. Maybe the problem comes from me as I am still very reticent about switching over to an e-reader, being wholly convinced that the reading experience can't be as enjoyable as with good old paper and ink.

The app creators have worked hard to try to get the perfect balance of modernity and olde-worlde feel. They explain : "The challenge we set ourselves was to communicate the beauty and quality of the original book in digital form while making sure that ‘none of the magic’ was lost.  We put the same effort into the app that we put into the hardback, and where possible, we have enhanced it. For example, all 27 of Daniela’s beautiful illustrations have been animated. Daniela worked closely with the app developers to make sure that the richness of the Indian jewel colours and the dazzling details were fully realised, down to the elephant’s eyelashes. She is ‘thrilled and delighted’ with the result.  There is the great thunder of hooves as elephants, rhinoceroses and all their friends from the forest run for their lives from ‘The End of the World’. In the ‘Hole in the Roof’ a hideous giant sleeps after a heavy ‘man’-made meal, his snores gently lifting his blood-spattered blanket.  The sadness of a grieving elephant and the quiet beauty of a princess bride are captured in ‘Lovely One’."

I really wanted to enjoy the app but, sadly, the Madhouse Mini-testers were underwhelmed and rapidly got bored, moving on to a more interactive app. If you want to give it a try, you can get the basic app including one tale for free. Further stories cost 69p.

You can watch the trailer below :

star rating : 2.5/5

RRP : free then 69p per extra story

Other reviews you may be interested in :

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