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From the Little Critter series

by Mercer Mayer & illustrated by Mercer Mayer & developed by Oceanhouse Media

Age Range: 3 - 7

Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter visits the beach with his grandmother, who, like all of Critter’s family, has plenty of patience for his good-natured mischief. When Little Critter—who looks like a hairy hamster—drops hot dogs in the sand, he helpfully washes them off in ocean water, among other mishaps. Mayer’s books are typically crammed with peripheral characters, humorous and clever illustrative details and diverting background text (signs, recurring pet characters) to keep parents occupied as they read. The iPad app is no exception. It adds sound effects, first-person narration that captures Little Critter’s obliviousness to the mayhem he wreaks and the ability to have words read aloud when objects and characters are tapped. (Unfortunately, some of these are mislabeled; one hopes they will be corrected in future versions, but for the time being, adults should be ready to correct the errors for their children.) There’s also an embedded game: At the end of the story, the app tallies up the number of times readers have found and tapped on the spider and grasshopper that hide in each frame. The oft-adapted story—it’s been, among other things, an MS-DOS CD-ROM game and a “Living Book” in the years since its original 1983 publication—still holds up. The graphics, page turning and read-along options work well to deliver a harmless, affectionate tale of a kid’s day out with his grandmother. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)