I’ve seen enough apps to realize that “interactive” can mean a number of things—and I confess, I’m not always a fan. Too often these components have little connection to the story, or they’re so ho-hum that it’s clear they were an afterthought. But every now and again along comes an app that reminds us how much fun interactive can be. Auryn, Inc.’s latest, Where Do Balloons Go?, by Jamie Lee Curtis, is one of those productions. It’s also an app that stands solidly on its own, next to the book it’s based on.
In this video, the author talks about her inspiration for the story. If you would like a preview of what our reviewer Elisabeth LeBris refers to as the app’s “high production values” take a peek at Curtis’s short tutorial on how to operate Balloons. You’ll get a glimpse at some of those features.
Title: Where Do Balloons Go?
Subtitle: An Uplifting Mystery
Author: Jamie Lee Curtis
Illustrated by: Laura Cornell
Developed by: Auryn, Inc.
Platform: iOS, 4.3 or later
PreS-Gr 3-Curtis’s charming picture book (HarperCollins, 2000) about the fate of lost balloons gets the royal treatment from Auryn, Inc. High production values permeate this engaging app, which encourages children to explore and create.
On the home page, viewers are greeted with a melodic tune and several options; they can watch the author’s animated video explanation of how she came to write the story and/or her quick overview of its features, or start the story. Curtis’s tale and Cornell’s whimsical watercolor illustrations are enhanced by tapping, pinching, and swiping, and tilting the screen; these movements activate hidden actions, musical interludes, background voices, sounds, amusing animated vignettes, and interactive objects.
Some of the more spectacular features include the opportunity for users to record their voices (as though affected by helium), to make balloon animals, to write and email postcards, to create characters and produce animated movies in the Balloon Theatre, and to snap and insert a photo of themselves on a balloon. Flexible navigation allows viewers to move easily between the story and the activities.
Additional features include a settings panel, hints, bookmarks, and a highlighted text read by the author with the option to repeat words or lines. The depth and the variety of the activities embedded in the app ensure that viewers have a different experience each time they return. A visual and interactive treat.—Elisabeth LeBris, Sears LTC, Kenilworth, IL