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Halloween Apps from Ed Emberley and Dan Yaccarino

Title: Go Away, Big Green Monster!
: Ed Emberley
: Ed Emberley
Voiceovers by
: Ed Emberley and Evelyn Lorinczi
Music Written and Performed by
: Adrian Carney

Developed by: Night & Day Studios 
Produced by
: Clara Seasholtz and Jaime Gennaro
: iOS, requires ; iPad exclusive
: 1.0.1

Title: Five Little Pumpkins
Dan Yaccarino
Dan Yaccarino
Developed by:
Published by:
iStoryTime /HarperCollins
iOS 4.3.3 or later; iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

PreS-Gr 1-While not specifically a holiday title, Emberley’s story has long  been a favorite of children looking for a thrill without the fright. Big Green Monster’s face materializes before their eyes: first his “two big yellow eyes,” then “a long bluish-greenish nose,” and next, “two little squiggly ears,” until his full “scary green face” is visible. In the print version (Little, Brown, 1992), Monster’s features appear one by one as the glossy black die-cut pages are turned. In the app, it’s the same face and vivid colors against a black screen that’s advanced by a swipe of a finger.

What makes this story so satisfying (in either version) is that children have complete control of this innocuous creature with a titillating moniker. Once the full-featured monster appears and is told to “Go Away!” face, hair, ears, and so on, disappear, until he vanishes completely and is ordered not to return “ Until I say so.” At this point most children will choose to “play again,” or read again (the vocabulary is suitable for emergent readers).

Animation is minimal but delightful: eyes that dart, a mouth that moves, and a face that reacts to viewers’ touches. As Big Green Monster begins to fade away, the background tones change. Emberley’s narration is terrific as is the young child’s (“Read with a friend”), but the “Sing Along” version by Adrian Carney is the show-stopper. It’s a voice and a tune that will have children (and their parents) singing along. Go Away? No way. This is a gem of an app.

Yaccarino’s Five Little Pumpkins has the distinction of being “Apple’s first interactive title for iBook” and is based on his board book by the same title (HarperFestival, 1998). It’s a brief traditional rhyme, told in this version over seven spreads.  A slightly spooky row of jack-0′- lanterns sits on a fence in front of a deep green field and dark blue sky. Eerie background sound effects (an owl that hoots, pumpkins that laugh) add atmosphere.

There’s animation as well: a ghost and witches that fly, pumpkins that roll, and wind that blows, but none of it is particularly exciting. Jack-o’-lantern faces light up with neon colors when tapped (adding some creepiness), but touching the screen to see these or other effects while the narration is on may cause it to skip or pause. Page turns can be a bit clunky. A control panel (hidden until the screen is tapped) offers options for sound, soundtrack, automatic page turns, and read aloud. Unless viewers opt to keep them all on, there’s not much going on here that will make them want to return.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Five Little Pumpkins


  1. […] PreS-K; $2.99), based on Emberly’s popular title featuring die-cut illustrations. Read the full review of this app, and take a peek at the trailer…this is one production that will have children and adults tapping […]