Assembled as an introduction to physical diversity, cartoon images of 26 children in name order sport a broad range of dress, skin tones, facial features, foods, disabilities and playthings.
From “A is for Alyssa” to “Z is for Zaahid,” the smiling children—drawn one per screen in similar styles by an international cast of illustrators—sit or stand on plain white backgrounds next to captions printed in large hand-drawn script. A narrator enunciates each patterned line. There is no animation, but tapping four selected items in each picture (three for X, Y and Z) results in more printed and spoken words: “Gareth,” for instance, wears “Glasses” and holds on to a “Guide Dog” and a “Gift” near a bowl of “Grapes.” As these children are clad, mostly, in western European dress and associated with no ethnic or national markers more specific than their names, readers are left free to think about or discuss them in either local or globe-spanning contexts. Still, the app is plagued both by design issues, such as the lack of any way to go forward or back more than one letter at a time, an audio track that cannot be switched off and the relegation of associated enrichment activities to the app's website. Some readers might also question word choices like “Queen Crown” in “Q” and, in “X,” “X-Mas,” which is nonetheless pronounced as “Christmas.”
Worthy of mission, somewhat ragged of execution. (linked website for parents/caregivers; requires iOS 6 and above) (iPad alphabet app. 6-10)