Loud Crow Interactive Inc. is taking a new direction in their interactive children's books with The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (US$2.99 for the iPad Version or $1.99 for the iPhone). Instead of the very similar PopOut takes on Peter Rabbit and The Night Before Christmas, in their third outing, they decided to do a 14-page board book for very small children. These are small books on very thick cardboard stock (perfect for teething). The story involves a bunch of animals on a boat preparing for bed by taking baths, putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, exercising and finally rocking to sleep. It's short, simple and quite well done for this type of book.
What makes it different from the print version is that The Going to Bed Book gives you the option to read it yourself or have a "big guy" read it to you. There is a slider to adjust the volume of, or turn off, the very soothing music, and touching a word speaks that specific word. This stops the narration but touching a little open circle reads it again. The interactions are tailored for toddlers and are easy to find, or marked if it's something special.
When the book is started, you'll see the book lying on a bed along with a stuffed pig, crayons and a few options. Touching the book enlarges and opens it, but it doesn't take the full screen. On the iPad, about an inch on the top and bottom is taken up by the background of the bed with the rounded book in the middle. This is fine for the iPad, but on the iPhone or iPod touch, the image of the book appears too small to clearly make everything out, and some of the interactions might be missed. Most of the interactive elements are of the fairly standard spring-loaded variety with sounds, but there are some nice touches, like a pig moving between portholes on the second page, or other portholes opening and closing. When a feature does more than that, it's clearly marked with a label. When the animals are in the bath, there is a label that says "turn" on the faucet. Doing so causes bubbles to emerge from the tub and fly all over the screen. When the animals brush their teeth, a label on the faucet is marked "hot." Turning the faucet slowly fogs up the screen, and the child must wipe away the condensation to the sound of squeaks. If it's not wiped away after a few seconds, it goes away by itself. Another interaction involves tapping a drawer enough times so that pajamas fly out, and they can be flicked around the screen. There are a few other items like this, but basically that's it.
For the right audience, what makes this book special is that, as far as I know, it's the first book for kids just hitting the toddler stage. Everything about it is age appropriate. If Loud Crow went for all the flash they had used in the past, it would be far too complex for a one year old. Looking at it with much older eyes, I could get through it in less than two minutes; the narration was really soporific, and there really wasn't much to it. But I'm not the audience. When my kids were just getting out of their cribs, they loved an even simpler book called Pat the Bunny where each page had a texture to feel. They went through it hundreds and hundreds of times. The Going to Bed Book is like that. I know that people will balk at the price for what they get, but it's not for you. It's for your baby or toddler, who may just love it.
TUAW is commonly provided with not-for-resale licenses or promo codes to permit product evaluations and reviews. For more details, see our policy page.