Teddy's Day for iPad brings something new to interactive children's books
Teddy's Day (US$3.99) from Auryn Inc. is a lovely and gentle book for very small children, appropriate for ages one and up. It tells the story of a little girl who is on a quest to find out what her teddy bear does all day when she isn't home. She sets up all sorts of traps to catch Teddy, and in doing so, this book brings something new to the exploding world of interactive children's books -- variety. In most books of this type, touching something triggers a short movement, sound or animation, but Teddy's Day is different.
Using a childlike graphic style and bright colors, you never know what you're going to get when you touch an object that, after the page is read by a little girl, is highlighted by colored lines. One really nice and involving part is when the girl says she will stay at home and spy on him. Tapping on the right space changes the page to an interactive coloring book containing a color palette, four sizes of crayons and some other tools. When you draw a picture and tap on a check mark the page reverts, and the newly created picture appears in a previously empty frame in the background. This can be repeated twice, since there are two frames. In another section where the girl is in a tree, tapping on a bird makes it caw, which is pretty standard stuff, but then tapping on any branch of the tree makes the bird fly right to it.
Animations are more involved than I've seen before. In one, tapping a sleeping Teddy rings an alarm clock and scares two mice as Teddy stands up. Tapping again makes him jump, and tapping a third time makes him run around the bed. This aligns perfectly with the narrative. A sense of exploration is apparent throughout the book, as the child has to figure some things out. When it's mentioned that Teddy might paint pictures, tapping the right spot covers the page with brightly colored splotches, and the only way out is to swipe away the colors to reveal the picture underneath. If you don't figure this out, it might get frustrating, but little fingers will find their way. I don't want to give everything away, but it's a good idea to keep your eye on the mice and the doll that entertain you on just about every page.
Some differences between this and other books are that the page is read before anything can be put into action, and the words are not highlighted. Tapping on the text block does not, as is usually the case, cause it to be read again. There is also no option for the parent or child to read it by themselves, and there is no musical soundtrack, but the sound effects are a great replacement.
The full name of the book is What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Day? by Bruno Hächler and Birte Müller. The difference between the App Store title and the book might be a bit confusing. There are some other confusing parts, too. One that had me stumped for awhile was on a page with a radio sitting on a bookshelf. If you tap the radio, music plays, which is just right, but if you tap on a book in the shelf, you'll get the first few pages of Auryn's upcoming offering entitled What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Night? without animation or narration. The problem is that if you don't wait until the title page of Teddy's Day is highlighted in the lower right corner of each screen, and tap on it, you will never get back to the second half of the story. Instead, the five preview pages just cycle. When you figure it out you do get back to the page you left, but it's not read again. This may be a bit much for very small kids to handle by themselves.
The book looks great and has subtle touches, such as blinking eyes or blowing leaves, keeping little ones entertained as the text is read. I really liked the fact that each page works a little differently, and the creativity of the animations and the addition of activities makes this book really stand out. I just wish that things were done in a clearer and more intuitive manner.
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