Today’s review highlights a title from “The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library,” which introduces young children to science topics from outer space and marine life to dinosaurs and pets. There’s No Place Like Space! is the first app release in the series, soon to be followed by others from Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
Title: There’s No Place Like Space!
Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrated by: Aristides Ruiz
Published by: Random House, Inc.
Developed by: Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
Platform: iOS, requires 3.0 or later
Series: The Cat in the Hat Learning Library
PreS-K-The Cat in the Hat, Thing One, and Thing Two lead Dick and Sally into outer space to learn about the planets in the “There’s No Place Like Space!” an iOS app adapted from the Seuss-inspired book of the same title. The illustrations and rhyming text match the revised edition of the book (Random) and the app adds some limited interactivity.
Children can choose to read the story on their own, or be read to by an enthusiastic male narrator. Users progress between panels by tapping the large arrows on the lower left or right of the screen. Each panel has figures or objects that can be dragged around, and when let go, will snap back to their original positions. (Some items were too small on an iPod touch to be moved about.)
Viewers can learn the name of an individual object by tapping on it; the item’s name will pop up and be voiced—a useful feature for beginning readers or ESL learners. Text in bold font is linked to a dictionary definition that will be read aloud when the word is touched (“space,” “moon,” “sun,” etc.).
On the smaller iPod touch screen where some text lines are cut off, users must tap the arrow to read the next line, which unfortunately disrupts the flow of the rhyme. Occasionally images of Thing One and Thing Two slide in and out of the screen holding a placard with an additional fact, but viewers will need to be quick to read and hear this information.
Children will learn that the sun is a star; a basic fact or two about each of the eight planets (“A planet can have satellites that surround it. Uranus has lots of these objects around it.”); and a mnemonic device to remember planet names, and be able to “connect the dots” on a few constellations. While youngsters may enjoy this app a few times, it’s long-term “stickiness” is questionable.—Mark Richardson, Cedar Mill Community Library, Portland, OR