Another beloved children’s classic becomes an app. Don’t miss this one.
PreS-K-Fans of Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (HarperCollins, 1955) will be pleased with this ebook app and the opportunity to lead the adventures of one of their favorite children’s book characters.
As the boy draws his way through land, ocean, and air escapades children may choose from three options to experience the story: “Read to Me,” “Read Alone,” and “Touch Tale,” which offers the most interactive features. In that mode, listeners can run their fingers over Harold’s drawings, turning gray crayon lines to purple. The ever-present question mark in the corner of the screen directs readers to where they can find other interactive elements, but most of these can only be launched after the text has been read. Sprinkling stars across the screen is magical, and the mystery of Harold’s favorite pie flavors is revealed.
“Read to Me” and “Touch Tale” share a soothing, professional narration of the book’s full text and upbeat background music that, unfortunately, can’t be turned off. Text appears at the bottom of the screen changing from black to purple as it is read aloud, then back to black. Parents of very young children may miss an auto-play option as all of the modes require manual page turns. “Read Alone” includes screen captures of the animated illustrations.
Navigation to the main menu and screen selection is simple and always available. One frustration that children may experience is that they are asked whether they would like to “Continue or Start Over” every time they press the “Home” button, even if they have just finished the story. Choosing “Continue” at this juncture will lead readers back to the last chapter. A pop-up asking for a rating, which appears after the first reading only, opens to the app store.
The enhancements in this app are truly delightful, but allow this classic story to take center stage.-Shelley Harris, Oak Park Public Library, IL