As a fan of storybook apps, I am always happy to find new ones on the App Store. I am even more excited if the app is something unique, like this one I am reviewing today.
Animal SnApp: Farm
Animal SnApp: Farm is a collection of stories that follow the adventures of farm animals. The app was created by Nosy Crow together with Axel Scheffler, a famous illustrator who worked on the award-winning children’s book The Gruffalo.
This charming app begins by presenting a simple two-piece slider puzzle that depicts the top half of an animal on one side and the bottom half on the other. It is interesting to note that both puzzle pieces always align together perfectly. Thus, as juniors try to match the correct halves, they will also inadvertently create silly animal hybrids like a “pog” (half pig, half dog) or a “shee-cow” (half sheep, half cow). Once an animal is matched correctly, the app will begin a tale that features said animal.
Animal SnApp: Farm contains six stories in total: Cuddly Cow, Diggity Dog, Gobbly Goat, Higgledy Hen, Lucky Lamb and Portly Pig. Each story is six page long and share a common plot: a troubled animal explores the farm in order to solve their problems. For example, in Diggity Dog, a dog digs around the farm to find his missing bone; while in Portly Pig, a disgruntled pig thinks that he is too clean and sets off to find some mud.
Aimed at young readers, the stories are also full of rhymes and alliterations. Below is a snippet from Lucky Lamb:
Lucky Lamb was nearly new.
She'd lots of lovely grass to chew.
But Lucky wanted to explore.
And squeezed through to the field next door.
Taking full advantage of the digital platform, the app cleverly integrates interactive animations into each page to create a 3D feel to the stories. Some scenes even show the animals running along the farm in a cinematic motion sweep. Several elements in a page can also be tapped to reveal additional dialog boxes or animations. Once all the hotspots in a page have been tapped, a blue arrow at the bottom of the page does a little bouncing animation to let your juniors know that it is time to move on to the next page.
As with most storybook apps, juniors can choose to read the stories by themselves or have a narrator read to them. In Read and Play, an adorable child voice reads out the narration in each page while the app highlights along. The app evenly shares the story between a boy and a girl narrator, so you do not choose between the two.
In Read by Myself, juniors can choose the length of time the text should stay on screen — short, medium or long — to fit their individual reading abilities. Unfortunately, the app does not read out or highlight a word that is tapped.
Parents Need to Know
Animal SnApp: Farm is an interactive storybook app that will delight your juniors with silly stories featuring adorable animals. Featuring simple, rhyming narrations and lighthearted plots, the app is appropriate for juniors as young as two years old.
While the stories included in the app are fairly short, they were written well. Although the characters are animals, their problems are actually quite human; for example, Cuddly Cow is a tale about a sleepy cow looking for a quiet place to rest, but it is always so crowded on the farm. I’m sure that many overworked parents can relate to this.
In another story called Diggity Dog, a dog searches for his lost bone but just can’t seem to find it. When he stops looking though, the bone suddenly shows up. As someone who is fairly forgetful, I have experienced a similar thing several times.
Each page in the app is designed as an interactive page in which juniors can tap on various hot spots to trigger short animations. Navigating through the pages is done by tapping on the arrows at the bottom of the screen. By default, the arrows are grayed out until all the available interactions have been played out to prevent juniors from leaving the page by accident. To force a page turn, double tap on an arrow. To go back to the main Menu screen, double tap on the Home button at the top left.
One final thing to note is that if you are planning to install the app on an iPad, you can only do so on an iPad 2 or newer.
Things I Like
I have to admit, I have never tried a Nosy Crow app before. I have read many rave reviews about their apps but it was only after trying out Animal SnApp: Farm that I understood why they are highly praised.
First, the stories are just wonderful to read. Their simplicity is endearing — these are the kind of stories that will last for generations, the kind that you can read many times over and still love. I also like how the problems that the animals experience are based on actual ones that we can relate to.
Another thing that I like about the app is the sliding puzzle/story picker at the beginning. I think that this is a simple but entertaining idea that will send juniors into fits of giggles as they create quirky mismatched creatures. It is also a great way to keep them coming back to the app.
Next, I adore the beautiful visuals. Scheffler’s colorful illustrations seem to come to life thanks to the clever use of animation. I have to admit, this is one of the best animation I have seen in an storybook app; they are very smooth and detailed. In Diggity Dog, for example, you can see the dog’s belly move as he breathes.
The app also has great interactivity, and some scenes surprised me with their extra playfulness. A favorite example of mine is a scene in Higgledy Hen where readers are asked to count the hen’s eggs. As you tap on them, the eggs will crack and reveal adorable chicks — very fun!
Animal SnApp: Farm is a delightful app that I highly recommend. More than just a storybook, this app delivers an almost cinematic experience with its beautiful visuals and top notch animations. The adorable narration, cheerful background music and quirky sound effects complete the reading experience. It is a must have for parents who want to encourage early literacy.
Get Animal SnApp: Farm on the App Store.
Thank you Nosy Crow for providing us with the app. It was a great experience!