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MY FRIEND THE SPIDER by Gloria Francella


by Gloria Francella, illustrated by Gloria Francella, developed by SmallBytes Digital

Age Range: 2 - 5

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Five5ifty

Beautiful illustrations carry this so-so app about a bird’s friendship with a spider.

Building a successful storybook app requires a solid three-pronged approach: make it visually interesting; tell a good story; and design it well. It might be said that this offering from Smallbytes Digital earns gold, silver and bronze medals in those categories, which adds up to a good app but not a great one. On the gold platform stands the visual component. Lush, bright colors against a canvas-textured backdrop are virtual eye candy, as the artist eschews traditional primary colors for a warmer, more-eclectic palette. The characters and their surroundings will appeal to young eyes, as they’re simple and easy to place into context. Design and functionality earn a silver medal, as the app is fairly easy to navigate, but transitions between pages are painfully slow. There are several games, including a Simon says–like sequence challenge, and taps summon various animations and endearing sound effects (especially from Rañolo the spider). That leaves bronze for the storyline, which has decent definition and follow-through; it just reads as a bland afterthought to the illustrations and interactions. Text and narration are available in English and Italian, and sound effects remain active even when the narrator is silenced.

This app is definitely above average. With a faster response time and a more interesting storyline it could sweep the golds. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)