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Review: Edsel McFarlan’s New Car for the iPad

We all know one—a child obsessed with cars. Around School Library Journal’s office it’s Sam Tuchman, our art director Mark Tuchman’s son. Like Edsel McFarlan, though, Sam has recently developed some new interests. The last time I saw him, he had a plastic gizmo strapped to his wrist that has all sorts of mind-boggling functions. But, despite the appearance of that nifty new gadget, I know that there is still a room full of well-attended cars somewhere in Brooklyn.

This app’s for you, Sam.

Title: Edsel McFarlan’s New Car
Max Holechek
llustrator: Darrell Toland
Auracle/Auryn, Inc.
iOS, requires 4.3 or later

PreS-2-Striking illustrations and a complementary text pop to life in this app based on the 2010 picture book of the same title (Book Publishers Network). Readers can enjoy the minimal, though effective, text in three ways: “Auto Play” advances the book like a movie, turning pages and narrating the story in a timely and prosodic manner; “Read to Me” narrates each screen but allows children to explore each until they are ready to move on; and “Read Myself,” which permits children to drive the app at their own pace.

Touching objects in the illustrations elicits visual and verbal labels. However, this function is limited and at times inadequate; for example, tapping a row of toy trucks in Edsel’s room brings up the word “car.” Fans of the book’s detailed and imaginative pictures may be disappointed by the lack of attention paid to this feature.  Nonetheless, the stunning HD presentation of the book’s art inspires awe.

In “Read to Me” and “Read Myself” modes, children can experience the story in a nonlinear fashion, jumping from beginning to end and between pages with ease. Each restart of the app will bring readers to the page where they left off, but a restart of the iPad is the only way to switch among reading modes. Tapping a button on the first screen brings an offer of audio customization, available for an additional charge through the App store. Edsel McFarlan is a satisfying introduction to the possibilities of apps for lovers of traditional picture books, and, of course, cars.—Sara M. Bryce, La Crosse Public Library, WI


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