The titular Ollie and Taavi are adorable dogs who sport yarmulkes, but their rhyming celebrations of Jewish holidays fall flat in this misconceived app.
The poems are addressed to young Jews, but those without background knowledge will find themselves at sea. For instance, though a Seder plate spins around if touched, the special Passover meal is not described. The uninspiring poems move from rhyme to free verse. The Tu B’Shvat (“New Year of Trees”) selection ends in a strange image: “I can / hold / the snow / in my branches / like a baby’s cradle in winter.” Although in some parts of the world the holiday occurs during the snowy season, in others, there is no snow, especially in Israel. The words are highlighted in red when the (monotone) narration is turned on. A customizable feature allows self-recorded narration, but word highlighting does not operate when this feature is used. The volume of the lively Klezmer music, other sounds and narration can be individually controlled. Purim noisemakers called groggers whirl round, and Hanukkah latkes fry and flip over, but none is very exciting. Awkward navigation forces users to return to the homepage if they want to skip around among holidays. Ollie and Taavi often disappear completely, but no children are shown in the illustrations to spark visual interest.
Skip this app and find other ways to help children learn about these holidays. (iPad informational app. 4-6)