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Monday, April 27, 2009

What Do You Think of Interactive Digital Books?

I recently had the chance to check out Story Fort's latest digital interactive book, What Is Bothering Carl? 

I don't have much experience with digital interactive books. There was one I used with some children I used to babysit for called The Smelly Mystery (Mercer Mayer). I loved this interactive storybook. Cute! Cute! Cute! So entertaining, and so funny! It's one that's truly enjoyable and entertaining for adults as well as children. I wonder if I still have it somewhere...

Anyhow, I mention The Smelly Mystery because it has set the bar pretty high for what I expect to get out an interactive storybook. I want a solid story, good narration, lots of interactive features on each page, and text that is highlighted as it's read (narrated). I expect at least this much. 

What Is Bothering Carl? met most of my expectations, and pleasantly surprised me in some areas. I had pretty high hopes when I learned about Story Fort. Did you know Story Fort was founded by Andy Hull, a former toy designer at Melissa and Doug? He has created several best-selling toys that have won Toys of the Year at Family Fun and Child magazines and have been featured on The View and in Cookie Magazine.  So I knew this storybook he created had to at least be pretty fun, right?

Fun it was indeed! It started off a bit rocky to me. The writing seemed a bit awkward. I wasn't quite sure where the story was trying to go. But it started to click for me part way through, and I was loving it. I was actually giggling out loud as I read through it. 

There were a couple interactive features on each page, and these usually directly correlated with what was going on in the story. For example: there was a page that talked about Carl scaring the gnomes that nibbled on his toes. The illustrations shows silly little gnomes on Carl's toes, making nibbling sounds. Then when you click on Carl, he makes a scary (more silly, actually) face at the gnomes and they shriek and fall off the page. 

I was expecting more interactive features because The Smelly Mystery had a ton of them, but I did like the fact that you weren't overwhelmed by all the interactive features on each page in What Is Bothering Carl?. They didn't distract from the story, they enhanced it. I think the simplicity of these features makes What Is Bothering Carl? appropriate and appealing to a younger audience than The Smelly Mystery. Story Fort's target age is 3+, but I think even two-year-olds could enjoy this read.

Some other notes about What Is Bothering Carl?
  • Charming illustrations
  • Highlighted phrases as it was narrated
  • Option for reading it yourself or having it read to you
  • Could click on selected words for definitions
  • There were a couple songs (with music videos, I'm told) with the story, but they didn't work on the copy I received. I did view one of the music videos they had on their website. Catchy!
  • Memory game included 
The What Is Bothering Carl? ebook is available through Story Fort for $15. Unfortunately, it is only currently available for a PC. I'm a Mac gal myself so I had to view it on a friend's computer. :( 

And you can find The Smelly Mystery on Amazon, but there are also some cheaper copies on ebay. 

What do you think of interactive digital books? Like 'em? Use 'em? Buy 'em? Share!

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

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