Saturday, April 10, 2010


Fables are very old tales going back centuries. They usually are very short and have specific point or moral on behavior. Often young children don't really understand them if they are not explained or discussed. Animals are usually the characters. The animals are not personalized. The wolf in The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is not named, Tom. However, the animals do exhibit limited human behavior. Aesop's Fables are the most famous, but there are fables from many countries. In book format it's often the illustrations that really enchant children. For example, the illustrations in Jerry Pinkney's Aesop's Fables picture book are beautifully drawn with watercolor and colored pencil. There are 61 fables in the book with text which is a bit much for the very young. However, in Pinkney's Lion and the Mouse there is just one story with very limited text. The stunning detail in the animals facial expressions are one of the reasons this was a Caldecott Medal winner. Pinkney is an amazingly talented African American artist. To do this format justice, iphone or ipad apps need to be have charming illustrations. I will be looking at fable apps for a few days. If I can't find significantly fabulous apps, then go to and get a couple of Pinkney's books for your child. Don't settle for a weak app. Everytime you reread Pinkney's books you will see something new and beautiful that you did not previously notice. Look at this face...

There are numerous collections of Aesop's Fables, such as SmilingMobile Inc's, Aesop Fables! for $0.99. However these collections are not individual books on one fable. These are available for those adults and older students who may be studying fables. Most are not illustrated collections, but some have one illustration per fable. There are also audio iphone fable collections with audio only. Preparing an app for fables is challenging. Even though the story is short, the same amount of thought should go into a presenting a fable as with any other story. It's not easy to be awesome on a fable. Below are a some individual fables for the young child.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Music on cover only. Read aloud and Read to myself. Light animation. Text large enough to read easily but not highlighted as read. Illustrations in an acceptable but not lavish folk art style. Good Wolf. Touch control of boy and animal voices with just enough variety to make it almost awesome. Good voice over by child. Moral is at the end of the story. Published by Kidzstory an imprint of Stepworks Company. $0.99. (aa)

The Tortoise and the Hare. Read aloud and read to myself. Music on introduction. Animation adequate. Text large and easy to read, but not highlighted as read. The illustrations do not have an earthy quality. Animals much too cartoon like, including the touch control animal voices. The giggling of the hare is obnoxious. Same child voice as above, but this has a slight sing song pattern that is not appealing for a fable. Moral at the end of the story. Published by Kidzstory an imprint of Stepworks Company. $0.99 (BB)

The Tortoise and the Hare. Cartoon version of the story. Illustrations disappointing. Auto read only. Text too small. No read by myself. Words are not highlighted as read. A short story made long. Some animation but it doesn't significantly add to the story. The reading sounded like it was recorded in a basement. This was 5 star rated. No Way! Published by Storyboy. $0.99. (BB)

The Lion and the Mouse. Read to me and a read to myself. In English and Cantonese. Cartoon illustrations. Ugliest lion I have ever seen. Text is highlighted, but not as read and is too small. Child readers. No animation. No sound except for readers. This app exhibits absolutely no charm. Published by iReading an imprint of AppleTree. $0.99. (BB)

The Lion and the Mouse. Music on intro only. Read to me and a read to myself. Text not highlighted, but large enough to read easily. Illustrations are average but just a little too cartoony, for example, the mouse has on a dress. Child reader. The reading is in a slight sing song pattern and doesn't quite fit. Animation not spectacular. When animals are touched there is squeaking and roaring. By the end of the story the reader has had an overdose of the same squeaking and roaring. Published by Kidztory an imprint of Stepworks. $0.99. (BB)


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