Archive | January, 2013

Cybils 2012 Book App Finalists!

6 Jan

The Cybils 2012 Finalists were announced on January 1, 2013. After going through a hefty list of over 80 submissions, the Cybils book apps committee came up with a well-rounded shortlist of five titles representing the year’s best. Getting everyone to agree on a list is generally the hard part, but we had a lot of cogent discussions and were able to come to consensus fairly quickly. It was a privilege to be on this committee, and I learned so much from my fellow colleagues/app-enthusiasts. I can’t wait to see which title will be selected by the Round 2 judges as the top app of 2012!

2012 Cybils Book App Finalists

Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night written by Mary Kay Carson; created by Ellen Jacob; developed by Bookerella and Story Worldwide

Excellent interactive design expertly melded with engaging non-fiction content made Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night! a standout title. Round 1 Panelist Cathy Potter noted, “The vivid animation of bats flying in the night sky coupled with sound effects from nature (bat wings flapping, wind howling, water babbling, and bats screeching) give readers the sense they are watching live bats in the wild.”

I especially liked this app because the 3d animation and the top-notch graphics reminded me of a video game, possibly elevating its appeal among children. Chock-full of interactivity and fascinating facts, this app will be enjoyed multiple times by young readers.

Dragon Brush created by John Solimine and Andy Hullinger developed by Small Planet Digital

Bing-wen, an artistic rabbit living in ancient China, loves painting eagles, tigers, but most especially dragons. Because he and his family are poor, Bing-Wen can’t afford art supplies. But one day, he receives the unexpected gift of a paintbrush made from the whiskers of a dragon. Children will be enchanted by this fanciful story about letting your imagination run wild.

The soft illustrations, painted in a muted, delicate palette reminded me of one of my favorite books from childhood: Tenggren’s Arabian Nights. The folksy, gentle guitar music has a lulling effect, making this an ideal bedtime read. Youngsters will revel in uncovering Bing-Wen’s artful drawings with a few swipes of their fingertips. It’s a big favorite with my sons.

Rounds: Franklin Frog written by Emma Tranter illustrated by Barry Tranter developed by Nosy Crow Apps

Nosy Crow’s non-fiction Rounds apps–Franklin Frog, and the more recent Parker Penguin–focus on animal lifecycles. In fact, the cyclical storytelling in these apps means that there isn’t a true conclusion – reflecting the cycle of life, the story keeps going.

Franklin Frog is a fabulous title brimming with valuable facts about amphibians, their environment, and feeding and mating habits. Child actors with charming British accents narrate the app, making it less didactic and especially accessible. Readers swipe the screen to make Franklin jump, do somersaults, catch tasty flies for lunch, and a whole lot more! Soft illustrations in earth tones, and soothing music add to the gentle ambience of this app.

The Voyage of Ulysses
developed by Elastico Srl

Taking on The Odyssey seems like it would have been an ambitious task, especially when it came to presenting the centuries-old epic in a new light for young readers. But Elastico Srl breathes new life into Homer’s beloved classic in this innovative, gorgeously designed app. Boasting beautiful artwork, clear narration, and stunning interactivity, Voyage of Ulysses had me enamored beyond the first swipe. Round 1 Panelist, Paula Willey wonderfully sums up the value of this app, saying it “succeeds in communicating the themes of loneliness and exile that make Homer’s epic emotionally arresting three thousand years later.”

Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery
written by Jamie Lee Curtis; illustrated by Laura Cornell
developed by Auryn, Inc

Jamie Lee Curtis’s 2000 picture book gets a make-over in this lively app from Auryn, Inc. Curtis’s engaging narration coupled with Cornell’s bright illustrations, not to mention tons of interactive surprises, will engage readers for hours. No, seriously, it will. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a fantastic balloon theatre feature that allows little ones to literally tap into their own creativity and tell their own stories. Round 1 Panelist Carisa Kluver isn’t kidding when she says, “…Don’t read it before bedtime–it’s way too much fun!”