Subscribe to SLJ
Touch and Go
Inside Touch and Go

Review: ‘Big Little Brother’ for the iPad

It’s occurred several times this fall: publishers have released print and app versions of a title simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously.  It’s true of today’s title, Big Little Brother, and was of Penguin’s Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me, released in November.  Sometimes the print title is interactive as well, as in the case of Bot Garage, issued in October with Lots of Bots!: A Pop-Up Counting Book (Random).

Title: Big Little Brother
: Kevin Kling
Illustrated by: Chris Monroe 
Narrated by:
Kevin Kling
Published by:
Minnesota Historical Society Press/Borealis Books
Developed by:
Mighty Media, Inc.
iOS, requires 3.2 or later 

PreS-Gr 1-Narrated by the author, this is an interactive version of his charming story (Borealis, 2011) about a four-year-old who learns that a younger brother can be a blessing as well as a curse. The older character relates all of his sibling’s annoying habits and makes it clear that he is the more mature of the two. However, much to the four-year-old’s embarrassment, by age two, his younger brother surpasses him in height. It’s a distinct disadvantage, of course, until the younger child’s size and presence in a sticky situation becomes a plus.

There’s animation throughout the app: a squirrel runs up and down a tree, scary shadows move across the bedroom wall at night, and the mother rocks her child to sleep. In addition, objects and figures on the screen wiggle to indicate that they will provide a sound or movement when touched. Toys talk or make noise and the stove turns off and on while yelling, “Hot!” Children are likely to find switching the light off and on the most fun. Often, dialog bubbles pop up when the characters are tapped.

There are no real surprises though, and a few readings will reveal all of the hidden extras. However, Monroe’s ink-and-watercolor cartoon illustrations are bright, the story is appealing, and youngsters with siblings will probably enjoy the characters’ good-natured rivalry and the story’s satisfying conclusion.—MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson Schools, Binghamton, NY