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WINKEN, BLINKEN AND NOD by Robin Rosenthal


illustrated by Robin Rosenthal & developed by Larva Labs by Eugene Field

Age Range: 2 - 6

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2011
Publisher: Larva Labs

What might have been a daring choice—instead of traditional narration, word highlighting is triggered by a reader's voice—sinks this otherwise-attractive adaptation of the classic poem.

Winken (the original poem's "Wynken" and "Blynken" have been regularized) is imagined as a rhinoceros, Blinken is a frog and Nod is a cute baby adorned with a folded-newspaper hat in Rosenthal's appealing cut-paper illustrations. Well-chosen sound effects and spare animations would make this perfect for a bedtime story, but the frustration of literally trying to make your voice heard renders it useless in that or any other function. The absence of any navigation options at all makes the problem even worse; readers may find they can’t get anywhere without screaming at the app or turning it off and starting over. The help page instructs viewers to read the words out loud, suggesting that talking louder and/or moving the iPad closer if there are problems, but this results in inconsistent success. While touching the words on the screen isn’t offered as an option, it does appear to work on some of the pages. Touching the words and speaking simultaneously on the very first page, however, may cause the remainder of the text to disappear altogether. Offering the option of turning off the speech-recognition function and providing a way to advance the story would save this app.

Speech-recognition software is just not there yet in this pretty-but-glitchy app. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)