Monday, April 18, 2011

My Very First App

From coloring books to flash cards, baby journals to stuffed animals, adaptations of Eric Carle’s tissue collage illustrations seem endless. Night and Day Studios has reshaped Carle’s work for the iPad, releasing My Very First App in December. This was the first of the company’s two apps adapting recognizable artwork into children’s games (see January's Peekaboo Forest, featuring the artwork of Charley Harper).

My Very First App turns images from Carle’s My Very First Books series into matching games. In "Easy" mode, the screen is divided in half; players scroll through sets of images to find corresponding concepts (e.g., purple and grapes). The "Medium" level requires users to flip over cards two at a time and pair images directly (grapes and grapes), while the "Hard" level asks users to pair different but related images (again, purple and grapes) while a narrator explains the relationship between the two.

In virtualizing the real-world card-matching game, Night and Day Studios has eliminated the possibility of lost cards and the necessity for pick-up, and the dimension of matching related but nonidentical images extends the app’s playability. Though children may quickly tire of matching the color and animal cards that come pre-loaded, there are additional card sets for purchase (but at $1.99 for the app and $.99 for each additional set, this could quickly become one of the pricier apps on your iPad).

From the chewed-through pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the twinkling lights of The Very Lonely Firefly, Eric Carle's books revel in both whimsy and envelope-pushing. Comparatively, My Very First App is a beautiful but somewhat underwhelming take on a traditional card game—and has lost much of Carle’s magic in the process.

—Elizabeth Parks

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