With winter and the holidays around the corner expect more coverage of seasonally themed apps in the next few weeks. Today’s title features a snowy landscape, a snowman, and a wish.
Title: Hello! Hello! I’m Snowman Joe!
Author: Stephanie Fife
Illustrations by: Michael Humphries
Music by: Stephanie Fife
Narrated by: David Lodge
Graphic Design by: Heidi Humphries
Developed by: HippoARToMus Books
Platform: iOS, requires 4.2 or later
PreS-K-Snowman Joe waves and hollers at the stars above, but they never answer him. Disappointed, he tries to get their attention, taking suggestions from the other snowfolk. Will Snowman Joe find a way to connect to the stars?
The rhyming story, though uninspired, is well narrated and accompanied by a delightful music score. The illustrations, in twilight blues, convey a cozy winter wonderland. Almost half of the pages, however, are not illustrated; on these pages the text is presented on slides with jarringly different background colors, in a variety of fonts, and with simple animations (snowflakes fall, words pop or drop when read). These pages detract from an otherwise visually pleasing app.
Animation is minimal, the most effective being the sparkling string of Christmas lights that appears on the title page and during the story’s climax when Snowman Joe is illuminated; this effect is both subtle and elegant.
There are three playing modes: “Auto Play,” “Read to Me, I Turn,” and “Read It Myself” (with no sounds or animations). Children looking for interactivity or additional activities will not find enough here for repeated viewings, but for those needing a bedtime story, this one may do the trick. —Virginia McCreedy, Richmond Public Library (BC, Canada)