Price: $1.99 — Rating: 8/10
For those who love books, the budding digital age may be devastating. Bookstores, even famous chains, continue to file for bankruptcy and close their doors all because the Internet and digital devices have replaced people’s need for physical reading material. And while actual books do still exist – the kinds with pages to flip, not swipe – technology makes it harder and harder to teach children what it once was like to fall in love with the shelves at a library. Thankfully, eBooks like Penelope the Purple Pirate by PicPocket Books do their best to incorporate the old-fashioned reading traditions with the growing trends of today.
Written by Melissa Northway and illustrated by Paul Johnson, Penelope the Purple Pirate caters to children ages 4-8. Penelope, a small girl with a big imagination, joins together with her imaginary sea creature friends to set sail for unknown territory in search of treasure. A fantastic tale that encourages imagination and exploration, Penelope the Purple Pirate in no way lacks storytelling depth.
When you begin, users will notice a small ‘i’ in the bottom corner. Here, you may turn the audio on or off, as well as the highlighted words. You see, an audio recording plays as the child reads along with Penelope. For each spoken word, the corresponding written word becomes highlighted so children will learn to connect the sounds and spellings. Designed to promote early learning and develop independent reading skills, Penelope’s audio even encourages an interactive reading experience with sound clips hidden throughout the story. Much like those children’s books with the soundboard buttons on the side, users can tap the seagulls or the water to hear the sounds of nature.
With Penelope, users need only use the intuitive page swipe feature, which substitutes the physical flipping of a page one would have if actually reading the book’s print counterpart. At the end of the story, parents and teachers will then find a collection of discussion questions, fun facts about Penelope’s sea creature friends, and interactive ideas that emphasize reading comprehension and promote further learning after the story is over.
As a member of Moms with Apps, which promotes quality applications for children and families, Penelope the Purple Pirate contains all but one key component – the parent. While I do support this applications approach to bringing children’s books into the digital age, it is my hope that busy parents will not abuse this convenience.
For a video demonstration of how Penelope the Purple Pirate works, click here. And for those who desire the paperback version, the book will be available at the end of March via Amazon.
Penelope the Purple Pirate [ iTunes Link ] requires iPhone OS 4.2 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.