Best Book Apps of 2012


Vicky Smith, Editor

Not quite three years after the launch of the first iPad, the iPad book app market is still going strong, offering up ever-more-inventive ways to redefine “book.” Kirkus is still in the thick of things, reviewing both the good and the not-so-good. This year we broadened our coverage to include book apps for an adult audience, adding some dazzling titles for those who don’t want to share their iPads with their children. We’ve sifted through them all, including best-selling print titles that have stepped into the digital realm, classics made new with mind-bending interactions and tales created just for the tablet, building narrative and interactions seamlessly from the ground up.

We here proudly offer our selection of the best book apps of 2012, including titles that should appeal to toddlers all the way up to their grandparents and beyond. Reading and tapping has never been so good.

MR. SANDMAN by Manon  Aidan
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Aug. 4, 2012

"Though the story is simple, even obvious, it takes flight because of the ambitious design work, the kind of thing that can only be pulled off as an app like this. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)"
A moody, beautifully rendered dreamscape, this app about conquering a fear of the dark takes full advantage of the iPad's capabilities. Read full book review >
THE HOUSE THAT WENT ON STRIKE by Rania  Ajami
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: July 24, 2012

"A lesson to be sure, but delivered in a lighthearted blend of equally lively art, sound and animation. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)"
In an episode both funny and pointed, a family of slobs receives an ultimatum from their filthy house and its disgusted appliances. Read full book review >

OVER IN THE OCEAN by Marianne Berkes
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: March 16, 2012

"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)"
This beautifully illustrated counting and singalong app version of the 2004 book introduces young readers to the creatures of the coral reef. Read full book review >
THE WRONG BOOK by Nick Bland
by Nick Bland, illustrated by Nick Bland, developed by Wheelbarrow
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: April 11, 2012

"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)"
This short, imaginative tale simply wasn't meant to be but is so fantastically narrated, readers won't soon forget. Read full book review >
EVEN MONSTERS GET SICK by Michael  Bruza
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: July 5, 2012

"Children with wheezles and sneezles of their own will sympathize with the droopy monster and perhaps feel a little less anxious about doctor visits, too. (iPad storybook app. 4-6)"
Zub looks like a bad bargain until his new young owner, Harry, realizes that the monster isn't sad and boring but actually ill. Read full book review >

GIFT by Andrea J.  Buchanan
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: March 27, 2012

"A fantastical and historical ghost story that benefits from technology and the presence of young love. (Paranormal romance. 15-17)"
An interactive ghost tale weaves together historical fiction and a supernatural love story with satisfying results. Read full book review >
BURTYNSKY: OIL by Edward Burtynsky
illustrated by Edward Burtynsky, developed by Melcher Media
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 14, 2012

"In all, a first-class photographic portfolio, intelligently aided by multimedia technology to provoke thought and discussion about the world around us."
Canadian photographer Burtynsky turns in a grand tour of the big, usually grimy world of petroleum. Read full book review >
BATS! by Mary Kay Carson
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Jan. 30, 2012

"A winner: beautifully illustrated, nicely designed and solidly informative. (iPad informational app. 6-9)"
A seamless blend of realistic graphics, high-resolution photography and well-chosen interactive features makes for an inviting introduction to bat behavior and types. Read full book review >