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.

IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Oct. 30, 2012

"Mission most definitely accomplished, thanks to lucid explanations and a steady focus on participatory instruction. (iPad informational app. 6-8)"
A quick course in rocket science and aerodynamics features '50s-style retro illustrations and rrrrobust narrrration in a Scots accent. Read full book review >
WHERE DO BALLOONS GO? by Jamie Lee Curtis
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: July 12, 2012

"Overall, the fanciful result is a storybook app with a far longer shelf life than most. (iPad storybook app. 4-9)"
Based on the traditional book of the same name, this interactive storybook takes balloon travel to all-new heights. Read full book review >

CLARA BUTTON AND THE MAGICAL HAT DAY by Amy de la Haye
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: July 26, 2012

What begins as a simple story about a girl trying to restore her grandmother's torn hat becomes an unexpectedly detailed look at fashion treasures from a famous British museum.

Clara Button, who wears colorful buttons that change with a tap, loves to design hats as much as her late grandmother, who was a milliner, did. Read full book review >

THE VOYAGE OF ULYSSES by Elastico srl
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: July 3, 2012

"An inventive and entertaining introduction to the classic. And that kiss at the end: perfect. (iPad epic app. 10 & up)"
A delightfully entertaining telling of the tale of brave Ulysses. Read full book review >
THE LEGEND OF MOMOTARO by Corey Finkle
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Nov. 2, 2012

With help from a trio of squabbling animals a young boy born from a giant peach takes on a squad of ogres in this unusually elegant rendition of the popular Japanese folktale.

Separated by fade-outs but placed between wood-grained borders as if on a continuous roll, the multilayered scenes catch the eye immediately. Read full book review >


B.B. WOLF by Debbie Fong
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 15, 2012

"A low-key, appealingly unpretentious twist on a familiar folk tale. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)"
A revised "Little Red Riding Hood," with unusually simple and effective illustrations and interactive features. Read full book review >
POCKET MONEY by Frankbooks
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Aug. 9, 2012

"An intriguing attempt to integrate digital technology with time-honored storytelling chops."
A guy, a girl and a suitcase full of underworld money form the reliable backdrop of an innovative iPad app that tries to integrate the world of social media with the solitary act of reading.
The plot of this serviceable crime caper stretches across the city of Berlin to a remote island off Germany's North Sea coast called Sylt. Read full book review >
LALOO THE RED PANDA by Lauren Freeman
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Sept. 12, 2012

"It's likely young readers who pick up this well-made app will be learning about both Bollywood and red pandas for the first time—and they will be glad they did. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)"
The adventure of a lost, rare red panda cub trying to find his way home is expertly packed with Indian culture, energetic artwork and engaging characters. Read full book review >