Oceanhouse applies its characteristically clean treatment to a Mayer standard.
As scraggly haired Little Critter relates all the cool things he will do with his little brother through the seasons, readers can tap the screen for voiced and spelled-out identification of various items in the picture. Many of these objects are crushingly obvious—“snowball,” “fence,” “basket”—but others are more nuanced. In an apple-picking scene, for instance, tapping the row of apple trees in the background yields “apples,” “apple,” “tree” and “orchard,” depending where the finger hits. While most preschoolers will be able to parse the differences among the first three with little difficulty, understanding exactly how the collective “orchard” incorporates them may not be quite so clear. Too, the tufty, inky lines found on many pages are variously identified as “grass,” “plants” and “weeds,” though there is little to distinguish the one from the other visually. Tapping the ubiquitous mouse elicits a “mouse,” a volley of squeaks and sometimes a little chime; tapping Little Critter himself brings up his name, voiced with extra enthusiasm by the child narrator. Particularly unfortunate is the cowboys-and-Indians scene, in which one child is reductively described as both “friend” and “Indian.” As vocabulary-builder, this app may muddle more than it enlightens.
By this time, both Little Critter and the “omBook” are tried-and-true brands, so there’s a feeling of sameness about both story and treatment that will reassure many children even as it, perhaps, fails to thrill their parents. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)