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Review: ‘The Little Blue Doggy’ for the iPad

This is the second app from The Secret Mountain and Les Productions Folle Avoine. The first, A Duck in New York City, features a dancing bird with its heart set on the stage.

Screen shot from 'The Little Blue Doggy' (Lafrance) Les Productions Folle Avoine

Title: The Little Blue Doggy
Song by:
Lionel Daunais
Published by:
The Secret Mountain
Developed by:
Les Productions Folle Avoine, Inc.
Illustrated by: Marie Lafrance
Performed by:
Michelle Campagne and Davy Gallant
Platform: iOS, requies 4.3 or later
Version: 1.0
Price: $3.99

K- Gr 2-More karaoke for kids than interactive app, The Little Blue Doggy remains true to its musical origins as a mid-century French-Canadian radio jingle that later became a picture book plus CD combo (The Secret Mountain, 2010). Sung as an energetic duet with accordions and horns, the song is snappy and light, reminiscent of French café fare. The illustrations are taken directly from the book and, like the music, are charmingly whimsical. But, the story itself is not for the faint of heart.

The opening image of Snag, the little blue knit doggy, is quite endearing, as are the sounds of a young child’s voice and his mother’s whispered reply. But things soon take a dark turn. Snag’s parents lock him in a closet, leave him to view caged humans in the park, then return to find that mites have devoured him. Mon Dieu! The story ends more happily as Snag’s mother is shown re-knitting him.

The app has three simple modes: “Read,” “Watch,” and “Sing.” In the first mode children can swipe through pages on their own. There is no sound or animation. In “Watch” and “Sing” the pages turn automatically. Pans, zooms, and subtle animations, such as stiff tail wags and head nods, bring the illustrations to life. Although not easy to find at first, pause and jump icons and a navigation slider allow for quick movement through the story. In “Watch” the text is sung with music and sound effects. In the “Sing” mode the text is not sung but highlighted, word-by-word, in sync with the musical accompaniment, encouraging children to join in. A “Shop” icon leads to the publisher’s store and iTunes.— Kathleen S. Wilson, New York University, NY