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A SMILE FOR ELLIOT by Maya  Sarfati


by Maya Sarfati & illustrated by Maya Sarfati & developed by Touchoo

Age Range: 1 - 5

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2012
Publisher: Touchoo

A sweet but bland story about the imaginings of a boy and his koala bear.

Touchoo Creator is a book-app–authoring tool for anyone who aspires to publish a digital book for kids. Much like building a Wordpress blog, authors can upload graphics and sounds, place text, and choose from various audio and interactive options. This particular book is a good example of the interface’s limited scope. The story is about a bear who’s lost his smile, so the little boy who narrates starts prompting his fluffy pal to imagine things that will turn his frown upside down. The story is told against a backdrop of minimalist illustrations and languid interactive elements: Drums beat, trains move and say “choo-choo!,” but no one’s going to write home about any of them. Perhaps the best interactive (and teachable) moments are found on a screen that allows little fingers to change the scenery according to season. Many do-it-yourself book apps have substandard audio, and this one is no exception. The levels are great, but the young narrator sounds like he’s at the bottom of a well. The last couple of pages find the bear sporting a tiny koala smile and having a cuddlefest with the boy who made it possible.

This DIY book isn’t half bad, but the price tag is sure to snatch a few smiles. (iPad storybook app. 18 mos.-5)