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Review: Elmer’s Special Day for iOS and Android

David McKee is the author of a number of books about Elmer the Elephant, a favorite character of the preschool set. McKee’s stories about this gregarious animal feature color-saturated images and gentle messages. This app’s interactive features focus on word identification and pronunciation.

Title: Elmer’s Special Day
Author: David McKee
Produced by: Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
Platform: iOS and Android
Version: 1.08.1
Price: 2.99

PreS-Gr 1-Once a year, all the elephants gather to celebrate their friend Elmer, the patchwork pachyderm. In his honor, they decorate themselves in bright, vibrant hues and parade through the jungle. This year their noisy preparations disturb Lion, Tiger, and other creatures. Although the elephants promise to quiet down, they are unable to contain their excitement. After a series of complaints, Elmer neatly resolves the problem by inviting all the animals to join the festivities.

Each scene in this quick-loading, picture-book adaptation of David McKee’s  2009 title (Andersen) focuses on a portion of a spread from the book, panning in a right-to-left movement. Two “Read-to-Me” choices elicit a well-paced narrative featuring pleasant female voice. On some pages, listeners will hear animal sounds along with rustling leaves or splashing water. Touching text while operating the “Read-it-Myself” option will allow children to hear terms pronounced.

When the illustration of an animal or object is tapped, its name is spoken as the word drifts forward in large, boldly colored typeface. This clear, floating text has an almost concrete-poem quality as readers tap about the page. However, the labeling can be inconsistent and somewhat odd. For example, the term “messy” is applied to neatly painted stripes but not a splattered image of paint.  At times, a random word from the text, such as “smiled,” appears without clear context. Surprisingly, color concepts aren’t introduced as part of the interactive features.-Lisa Von Drasek, Bank Street College of Education