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From the Rocket series

by Tad Hills, illustrated by Tad Hills, developed by Random House Digital

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2011
Publisher: Random House Digital

A digital version of a 2010 tree-book about a small dog set on the road to reading by a clever avian educator.

Initially miffed at having his nap disturbed by a brisk, cheery yellow bird, Rocket soon falls under her spell. She reads stories and then shows him how to put letters of the “wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet” together into simple words. After she flies away in the fall, he keeps up his skills by tracing letters in the snow and sounding out words (“C-O-L-D”; “M-E-L-T”) until Spring brings both “M-U-D” (smearable with a fingertip over the whole screen) and a joyful reunion. Rocket’s extreme cuteness in the bright, simple illustrations is underscored by touch-activated tail wags and fetching cocks of the head, along with other small animations. The (optional) narrator, actor Hope Davis, reads in a deliberate, even-toned way, and as she does, each word of the text is highlighted—and whether or not the “Read to Me” track is selected, she pronounces any word or letter on the screen that is tapped. Along with the story itself, the app includes an author’s bio with a slide show and two literacy-building games for newly fledged readers. Some glitches need working out: The app is slow to load, continues to run when the tablet is locked and cannot be paged back from the final credits. Still, the added and interactive features are enhancements rather than distractions.

In this form, it’s an even more heartwarming valentine to reading (and the teaching thereof) than the original printed version. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)