An interactive audio/visual sing-along.
This Christmas classic has been covered and parodied to pieces and is often one of the first holiday songs kids ever learn. Polk Street Press has taken its turn with the old chestnut, providing cute animated vignettes to go along with the lyrics. Withrow’s colorful and charming illustrations are animated just enough to keep little eyes engaged. Ladies dance, pipers pipe and lords leap as the song progresses. In sing-along mode, the app functions like a video; unless the pause button is pressed, it’ll take readers through all 12 stanzas. Creatively inclined readers can record their own voices singing either alongside the female lead or simply with a piano accompaniment. For iPad 2 users, there’s an added bonus: the option of recording both audio and video of the reader's musical contribution, both of which can be saved for later playback. There’s also a play-along mode that, when launched, pauses after each descending item; readers keep the song going by selecting from a “filmstrip” of numbered thumbnail images.
Though the app is reasonably well done, it can’t help but perpetuate a seemingly endless musical loop that’s reminiscent of “99 Bottles of Beer” or “It’s a Small World.” That said, it’s a suitable choice for those who love the song, if potentially crazy-making for everyone else. (iPad storybook app. 2-7)