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.

WORDFLEX TOUCH DICTIONARY by Schematix
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Feb. 8, 2012

"A welcome addition to a logophile's arsenal—the last word, we learn, coming from an Arabic phrase meaning "house of industry," though this is a lot more fun than all that."
An iPad-only app that displays networks of word associations in trees that unfold into branches and sub-branches of meaning. Read full book review >
KINGDOM OF PLANTS WITH DAVID ATTENBOROUGH by Serengeti Entertainment Ltd.
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 22, 2012

"A captivating experience that encourages users to keep coming back for repeat visits."
The inimitable Attenborough conducts a fascinating interactive tour of the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens and its legendary collection of fantastic greenery from around the globe. Read full book review >

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: April 26, 2012

"Some narrative weakness aside, a brilliantly designed app; the current benchmark for high-quality storytelling via tablet. "
Mary Shelley's classic rewritten and retooled, with an appealing gothic-style interface and ingeniously immersive format. Read full book review >
MY MOM'S THE BEST by Rosie  Smith
Kirkus Star
by Rosie Smith, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, developed by SnappyAnt
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: May 2, 2012

"A darling first app for little ones to share with their own moms. (iPad storybook app. 1-5) "
A simple, well-executed animal mommy/baby love story for the youngest crowd. Read full book review >
SNEAKY SAM by Josh Stewart
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Aug. 10, 2012

"Keep an eye on this kid; one can only hope he'll sneak his way into another story or two. (iPad storybook app. 2-5)"
A brief but endearing tale about a mischievous little boy. Read full book review >

KODEE'S CANOE by Nicole  Stinn
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: June 30, 2012

"A very well-balanced offering that both educates and entertains. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)"
Little polar bear Kodee and his friend Raccoon learn about echoes in this suitably simple storybook for preschoolers and early readers. Read full book review >
TOWER DEAREST by TerryLab
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Aug. 3, 2012

"Hard not to smile at this, whether it's read as a tribute to communal living or a simple bit of rustic foolery. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)"
Lively, brightly colored illustrations featuring a full kit of touch-activated details infuse this traditional cumulative tale with infectious cheer. Read full book review >
A JAZZY DAY by The Melody Book
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: Jan. 13, 2012

"A winning app that could easily be deemed the jazz version of The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Smooth. (iPad storybook app. 2-8)"
This highly user-friendly primer gives kids both a macro and micro lesson about jazz music. Read full book review >