With the App Store growing day by day, it can be hard to keep track of the best new titles. We are pleased to present just a few of the best apps and e-books for children and teens that we've recently reviewed. Please check back often for our complete iPad coverage.

Read more new and notable children's books this June.

OVER IN THE OCEAN: In a Coral Reef 

Marianne Berkes
Illustrator: Jeanette Canyon
Developer: Malachi Bazan
Developer: Dawn Publications

This beautifully illustrated counting and singalong app version of the 2004 book introduces young readers to the creatures of the coral reef. With a touch or a jiggle, kids can send baby fish swimming, puffer fish puffing and squid squirting ink. After a one-by-one introduction to the featured coral-reef babies from one octopus to 10 seahorses, a "Find the Babies" game brings them all back together for one final count. Backed by music and ocean sounds, the text is read or charmingly sung by the book's multitalented author, or readers can choose to read to themselves. With a format that includes science, math, art, music and reading, it still manages to be what learning should be—fun. (iPad informational app. 4-8)

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srongbook THE WRONG BOOK

Author/Illustrator: Nick Bland
Developer: Wheelbarrow

All Nicholas Ickle wanted to do was create a book about, well, himself. He’s an imaginative guy with his own story to tell. Trouble is, he barely gets the words “This book is about” out, when he is rudely interrupted by a trumpeting elephant, upstaged by little, green, flatulent monsters, usurped by treasure-burying pirates, then overtaken by rats and other surprising guests. Try as he might to shoo them away, they keep popping in until Nicholas’ book is no longer his own. Based on Bland’s printed book of the same name, it shines as an iPad storybook, with whimsical illustrations and a buffet of interactive fun on each page. Superbly voiced by Australian comic Frank Woodley, Nicholas Ickle’s story-run-amok is buoyed high by brilliant timing and characterization…A story is only as engaging as its storyteller; this winsome offering leads the way in one crucial area where many digital storybooks fall tellingly short. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

 

giftcover GIFT

Andrea J. Buchanan
Illustrator: Alexis Seabrook

Daisy’s mysterious ability to channel electricity has always been more curse than blessing, especially since it means no cellphone or computer use. However, when she and her friends Danielle and Vivi are unexpectedly faced with an evil spirit from Daisy’s distant past, the utility of Daisy’s gift slowly becomes clear. Woven into the mix is Kevin, a brooding love interest with a guitar who keeps Daisy grounded throughout their adventure. Interactive elements ranging from embedded YouTube videos to subtly animated black-and-white illustrations add to the overall experience and spooky atmosphere. The text concludes with a final section—“More Gift”— in which the three supporting characters present their own perspectives on the story. A fantastical and historical ghost story that benefits from technology and the presence of young love. (Paranormal romance. 15-17)

 

horsemagic HORSE MAGIC 

Cathy Hapka
Developer: Bookerella and Story Worldwide

When summer vacation starts with a downpour, Shelby, Annalee and Cammie, all 12, are challenged to amuse themselves in the barn at Crooked Creek Stables, which is owned by Shelby’s mom. Boredom has set in when an unfamiliar gray horse with a magical mark on his neck appears both in the story and as an image that slowly materializes on the screen. Despite many warnings about the dangers of an unfamiliar animal, Annalee rides the horse, which they name Magic, and her friends follow alongside as he leads them back in time to a medieval adventure. Leveraging the digital format, the text includes high-quality sound effects such as falling rain, hoofbeats and a variety of nature sounds, which not only flesh out the immediate situation, but are well-timed to enhance rather than distract from the overall reading experience. Each "page" appears to be made of a warm homemade paper edged by greenery, such as ivy and clover, that changes with the flow of the text. Well-used technology paired nicely with solid characters make this a promising series opener. (iPad fantasy app. 8-10)

 

petesrobot PETE'S ROBOT 

Developer: Heartdrive Media

An impressively scruffy app with scribbly artwork and nary a straight line to speak of, this mix of low-fi presentation and top-shelf interactivity is a unique pleasure. Hyperactive, blue-haired Pete and his dog Spot send away for all the parts necessary to build a custom robot. But when the gleaming, red, string-limbed ’bot arrives, the thing goes crazy in an amusing series of adventures. It turns out the robot is missing a "Heartdrive"….Once the addition is installed, the robot becomes "Hero" after rescuing a cat in a tree. The busy stream-of-consciousness plotting at work in the app perfectly fits the intentionally rough artwork. The characters often look like they've been chewed up in a paper shredder, but they're set against sometimes-gorgeous spinning backgrounds. Every page has at least one or two touch-screen toys to play with, like telescoping arms on Pete or a full set of instruments to play and mix up when the [characters form a band]. There's a sunny, boisterous sense of fun about the whole thing that's positively endearing; both robot and app have got a lot of heart. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

 

leonard LEONARD 

Ink Robin
Illustrator: Timothy Penner
Developer: endloop

A move from the city to the country leaves Leonard, an optimist with an enormous imagination, in a bit of a quandary: Where are all the new friends? As readers join him in his search, Leonard’s imagination takes off full force, taking him into the jungle and soaring into outer space. He’s even desperate enough to crash his sister’s tea party, which turns out to be an awkward turn of events. Penner's ’60s-retro illustrations pop, and Andy Trithardt's narration piques interest from the get go. The music and sound effects are brilliant and flawlessly timed. From the harp-and-flute combo that takes readers into Leonard’s imagination to the mournful violin solo played by his long-suffering feline sidekick, it’s a sonic delight. Well told, cleverly illustrated and beautifully supported with interactive surprises that make sense and are great fun, this is a stellar example of iPad storytelling. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

 

ediblesuit THE EDIBLE SUIT

Edward Lear
Illustrator: Jon Higham
Developer: Tizio BV

A bold fashion statement goes badly awry when a gent dressed in meat, candy and other edibles tries to take a stroll. Out hurtle “all sorts of beasticles, birdlings and boys” to send him reeling home stark naked. Higham depicts the onslaught in discreet but humorous watercolor cartoons, enhanced here by touch-activated animal calls and animations. In many scenes, veritable showers of items sail into view, usually with loud pops or other noises, as fast as little fingers can hit the screen. Based on a print version from 1986 with a few of the original verse’s lines rearranged and minor word changes (“jujubes” become “jelly beans,” a “girdle” switches to a “belt”), the rhyme can be read silently or by optional narrators in a Dutch translation or in British or North American accents. Smooth pans of the double-screen illustrations and interactive features that are as high in child appeal as the sidesplitting plot add up to an unusually successful crossover to the digital domain. (iPad storybook app. 6-9)

 

owla nd cat OWL AND CAT 

Edward Lear
Illustrator: Ewa Podles
Developer: NitroLab

Feline and fowl profess their love for one another in this winning adaptation of Lear's popular 1871 nonsense poem. Everything about this app is well done. The graphics are simple, deeply colorful and laser crisp, and the characters are appealingly goofy. Each slightly animated page holds one or more interactive elements that are basic, yet pleasing, particularly in their tactile fluidity. Sound effects are well placed and strikingly clear, perfectly garnishing the overall effect rather than overwhelming it. Though original music accompanies the text throughout the book, developers intentionally excluded voiceovers to encourage parents to read to their children. Although labeled as "free" in the app store, that applies only to the first few pages. Readers who want the whole poem will need to make an in-app purchase. A triumphant blend of classic literature and tablet technology. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)

 

lilost rabbit LITTLE LOST RABBIT FINDS A FAMILY 

Lemniscates
Developer: iLUBUC

An abandoned bunny doesn’t stay homeless for long in this understated, simply illustrated import. Venturing out into “their” vegetable patch with baskets under their arms one day, the Bunnybig family hears loud noises (“CATACRACK, CRASH, CRASH!”). Investigating, they see the neighboring rabbits being run off by tractors. Spotting a droopy refugee on the other side of the garden fence the next morning, the littlest Bunnybig quickly enlists help from everyone to dig a hole and to adopt a new Bunnybig into the clan. In the spare art, which looks like cut-paper collage with bits of added brushwork, a tap activates twitching bunny ears or a drifting cloud, makes figures move a few inches or nibble on a carrot, along with like restrained animations. Though navigation isn’t as seamless as it might be…and at just 12 scenes, the tale seems barely begun before it’s done, the overall feeling of warmth and welcome will leave all but the most hardhearted audiences smiling. Brief, but loaded with appeal for younger readers and pre-readers. (iPad storybook app. 3-5)

 

lostlarry LOST LARRY 

Graham Nunn
Illustrator: Graham Nunn
Developer: Wasabi Productions

A little green lizard will trail a fingertip home in this mini-Odyssey, the third of Larry’s interactive outings. Pointing fingers in the illustrations and overt instructions in the rhymed text (“Trace a path with your finger right on the screen / Larry will follow once the path’s been seen”) provide uncommonly broad hints for this app's toddler audience. They guide the lost lizard through very simple zigzag mazes, over stepping stones, and past gatherings of anthills and beehives to, at last, a dark little cave just right for a curled-up snooze. The story is read (optionally) in soothing Aussie accents over quiet sighs or chuckles from Larry and other easily identifiable sounds. The low-key narrative accompanies a set of broadly brushed cartoon scenes—in each of which taps will also make numbers appear briefly in sequence, a fish leap, an echidna suck up ants, or buzzing bees fly off as Larry crawls or hops out of view. Clean, simple, seamless—just right for the nursery-school set or children with special needs. (iPad storybook/dexterity app. 1-3)

 

redriding hood ALTERNATIVE STORY: RED RIDING HOOD

Developer: ZigZag Studio

Over-the-top and hokey, but somehow this “choose your adventure” fairy tale works by never taking itself too seriously. A sultry fairy narrates the story of Little Red Riding Hood and offers choices along the way for viewers, the most dramatic of which is “Did the Wolf help Little Red Riding Hood?” If viewers choose yes, the Wolf gives Little Red Riding Hood a piggyback ride to Grandma’s and they all have a nice afternoon snack together. If viewers choose no, Grandma and Little Red Riding Hood are the Wolf’s afternoon snack. The illustrations have the feel of a shoe-box diorama, with props, characters and scene elements dropping in from the top or sliding in from the sides of the screen. There are enjoyable and unexpected interactive options on each page to keep viewers interested, as well as some tongue-in-cheek laughs. When Grandma is about to be eaten by the Wolf, a camera with a red X across it materializes to cover the horrors viewers might imagine are happening behind it. Good-natured fun and some well-designed interactive elements distinguish this fairy-tale remake. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)