I love checking out a storybook app for the first time, simply because there’s so much potential. The animation, the sound, the educational component, the special effects – apps really can change this medium, hopefully in a positive way.
Oz Wizard, an app designed by BlueFinger, introduces children to the story of the Wizard of Oz over eighteen pages, with the option of having the text and audio in either English or Hangul (Korean). The main menu is simple, with a large “Play” button to begin the story. You can also select “Read Myself” to see the text with no audio.
The illustrations are lovely, as well as interactive. The text appears at the top right, and as the audio plays, the sentences are highlighted so children can read along. You can tap the “stop” button at any time to diminish the text and mute the audio. Tapping different people and objects on the screen may activate movement and sounds; to find them all, just tap the exclamation point in the top right corner.
What I particularly liked about it was that it wasn’t formulaic, meaning every page didn’t feature the same animations. For example, when Dorothy meets the scarecrow, she (and the child) “help” him out of the cornfield and over the fence with a touch and drag. Likewise, the reader helps all of the characters, even Toto, cross over into the land of Oz.
Overall, the app’s interface is definitely a simple one that children will have no problem using. The story is of course classic, and while I did find one typo in the text, I appreciate that children can read along with audio assistance and gradually move on to reading the text alone. Oz Wizard is an excellent way to introduce children to the magical story of Oz on your iPhone.
Oz Wizard [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.