Like the sheep featured in it, this app may not seem quite so appealing if it were stripped of its fluffy, soft surface.
Ben the Tractor, a cheery, grinning red tractor, is tasked by Johnny the Farmer with collecting the sheep around the farm and bringing them back to the corral. Amid ducklings, cows and a horse, Ben seeks out the errant sheep, loads them onto his trailer (with the help of a reader's fingers), then unloads them back near the farm. And... that's about the extent of a less-than-thrilling day on the farm. While the app is pretty solid in nearly every area, from its goofy, cartoony animal animations and sounds to its intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface, it doesn't have much of a story or personality. Ben himself doesn't speak or do much more than chug and smile through uninspired text like, "The Tractor was very happy and was going back to the farm." The app also features a collection of digital jigsaw puzzles built from the story pages, but the fun of the puzzles isn't enhanced much by the forgettable farm fiction. And finishing the tale requires finding all the sheep, thus completing Ben's chores. Miss a sheep, and frustrated young readers won't get to "The End" without some backtracking. It's a shame, too, because the clearly labeled menu buttons, whimsical illustrations and solid narration could have gone somewhere.
A solid technical effort that suffers from a severely shorn narrative. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)