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Review: ‘The Little Red Hen’

Remember the “Little Golden Books?” This is the second title in that series to be issued in digital format by Random House Children’s Books and Smashing Ideas, Inc. Janette Sebring Lowrey’s bestselling The Poky Little Puppy (1942), illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren, was the first. We reviewed that title here last September.

Screen shot from 'The Little Red Hen' (Miller) Random House

Title: The Little Red Hen
Published by: Random House
Developed by: Random House Children’s Books /Smashing Ideas, Inc.
Platform: iOS, requires 4.0 or later
Version: 1
Price: $3.99

PreS-K-A faithful adaptation of the 1954 The Little Red Hen (Golden Book) illustrated by J. P. Miller. The highlight of this digital version is its winning, old-fashioned narration. Unfortunately, the app’s interactive elements are less engaging.

Soft glowing circles of gold indicate spots to touch to trigger sound effects, the animal’s limbs to move, the grain to grow, and other slight animations. In the “Auto Play” mode, words are highlighted as the text is read. Viewers may choose to switch this mode off and read along by tapping each word, or record their own narration. The sound effects (quacks, meows, oinks, rustling leaves, a gurgling fish, and music), may also be turned off, but they do enhance the telling.

The menu icon provides access to specific pages, settings, the Random House website, and to stickers unlocked by answering any of the seek-and-find (voiced) questions (“Can you find three bumblebees?” “Do you see the grain of wheat?”) Users may create a storybook scene with the stickers, personalize their app by adding a photo, or inscribe the inside cover in the “This Little Golden Book belongs to . . .” box.

Viewed on the iPhone, some of the story’s text shifts offscreen and a few of the seek-and-find challenges are difficult to complete as the item to locate is blocked by the question box that drops when the challenge icon is tapped. Fans of this classic story about the value of teamwork will find that this version is best viewed on the iPad.Cindy Wall, Southington Library, Southington, CT