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.

TICK BAIT'S UNIVERSE by Marc Gamble
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Feb. 8, 2012

"This well-designed odyssey truly does put the universe at viewers' fingertips. (iPad informational app. 6-12)"
A "powers of 10" app that takes young explorers from quarks to the furthest reaches of the observable universe. Read full book review >
BESIDE MYSELF by Jeff Gomez
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Nov. 9, 2012

"A savvy, thoughtful and well-made app both in its writing and its presentation."
Veteran novelist Gomez (Our Noise, 1995; Geniuses of Crack, 1997; etc) makes his iPad fiction debut with a canny study of split personalities, family and roads not taken. Read full book review >

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 28, 2012

"Despite some room for improvement, this rendition lends itself equally to shared or independent reading and is likely to become as well-thumbed as it already looks. (iPad storybook app. 9-11)"
Though this adaptation of the classic cuts down on the original's more lyrical flights of fancy in favor of a closer focus on plot, the richly sentimental tone remains in full force. Read full book review >
RITA THE LIZARD by Irene Blasco Grau
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Nov. 1, 2012

Bursting with life in its clever visuals and antic sense of play, an abundance of activity is on offer in this story about a fun-loving red lizard.

Rita, the titular flat, red lizard, is first seen lounging on the beach as a paper sailboat passes by. Read full book review >

CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD by Peter Guttman
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Jan. 7, 2012

A photo gallery-as-app is light on features yet becomes a moving visual statement communicated through the faces of hundreds of kids from around the world.

The 230 photos—often-breathtaking, in-the-moment portraits—are accessed via pins on a world map, as a slide show or as a gallery with a simple horizontal bar as navigation. Read full book review >


HORSE MAGIC by Cathy Hapka
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: March 26, 2012

"Well-used technology paired nicely with solid characters make this a promising series opener. (iPad fantasy app. 8-10)"
An interactive introduction to three female friends linked by their love of horses and a fantastical adventure. Read full book review >
PETE'S ROBOT by Heartdrive Media
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: March 23, 2012

"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)"
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. Read full book review >
DRAGON BRUSH by John  Solimine
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 23, 2012

"With its distinctive look, a great drawing element that's actually appropriate to the story and a moral that values cleverness over power, Bing-Wen's app is as rare and magical as the dragons he loves to paint. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)"
The story of a magical dragon brush that can bring painted objects to life casts its own spell. Read full book review >