Title: Black Bear, Loon & Walleye
Author: Sara Button
Illustrated by: P.A. Lewis
Published by: Beaver’s Pond Press / Soulo Communications
Developed by: FlyingWord, Inc.
Platform: iOS 3.1.3 or later, Android 2.0.1 and up
Price: $2.99 for iOS; $.99 for Android
PreS-Gr 2-Envy of Black Bear’s ample fur coat, Walleye’s shimmering scales, and Loon’s luxurious feathers triggers a magical switch among the animals in this adaptation of Button’s story (Beaver’s Pond Press), first published in 2007. The results are gently comic for the three friends as Walleye struggles in feathers, Black Bear shivers in scales, and Loon is hopelessly weighed down by fur, but the author does not trust readers to draw the appropriate lesson from the story, adding a heavy-handed conclusion that tells rather than shows the importance of taking risks while appreciating individual gifts.
Each animal character is voiced distinctively; Black Bear sounds especially deep and growly. There’s unobtrusive background music when sound and narration are turned on and the font size can be adjusted. Some animation starts automatically while touch adds a few more movements. Close-up and wide-angle views of pleasing art on each page help viewers understand the story but the animated elements are limited and distract from any deeper understanding of the characters. It makes sense for Black Bear to frequently shiver when wearing scales but in a number of other scenes touch causes him to pivot as if he’s about to fall down, though that’s not part of the plot.
While soothing, a ballad sung by Boyd Lee at the end of the app may be of limited interest to children. Once the ballad is completed an ad pops up promoting other books from FlyingWord.—Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School, Seattle, WA