The Three Little Pigs by Nosy Crow (rating BAB)

The Three Little Pigs app is the first app from Nosy Crow, a new independent  children's publisher. On opening the app, you are given three options: Read & Play, Read to me, or Read by Myself. In these three different modes the app works for various reading  abilities and ages. The app is aimed at 4 and older, but there is plenty to  offer 2 and 3 year olds too. The pre-school kids I tested this app on were  totally captivated by it (in play mode).

The illustration in this app is exquisite and has created a wonderfully textural world for the Three Little Pigs. Perfect to engage and stimulate children. There are plenty of interactive elements on every page (without distracting from  the story). The app offers little readers the ability to:

- make the characters somersault
- help the pigs to build their houses
- blow the houses down
- move to the outer edges of the scene
- drop the wolf down the chimney

Children can blow onto the iPad to create the big bad  wolf's breath, in my opinion, this is a stroke of genius. The children I tested this app on  were  genuinely amazed by this (and I think the reason they kept wanting  to revisit  the app).

Even my 10 year old thought this feature very 'cool'. Navigation throughout the app is simple, children are encouraged to touch blue dots to make the pigs talk and arrows to move through the pages. Again, with a small amount of guidance, 2 and 3 year olds quickly picked this up.

The beautifully illustrated world, interactive elements and the story meant there was plenty to keep children engaged from cover to cover. Amongst the children I tested this app on there was much shrieking and giggling throughout the app. They seemed to particularly enjoy playing their part in the Big Bad Wolf's final fate of a 'burnt bottom'.

This app shows the exciting possibilities for story telling in the digital age. The  multi-dimensional nature, interactivity and richly illustrated world of  this app encourages children to immerse into the story as they  never have before.

If the success of a book app is the perfect blending of design, audio, interactivity, animation, illustration and the story, this app is the first I've seen that achieves this. Most publishers have missed on at least one of these with their iPad apps previously.

Kate Wilson, founder and m.d. of Nosy Crow wrote a piece for Futurebook. I've pulled out 4  points she made that I think are key to successful digital publishing:

'....  we’re all in one room, so we don’t have a digital department that’s separate from the rest of our activities'

'....required us to think in more media and dimensions than, as print publishers'

'creating an app is a highly collaborative experience'

'The gestation was longer and more complicated than we’d thought, and the result  was even better than we’d hoped'

Other  publishers may want to consider these, as Nosy Crow has produced a top-notch app. In my opinion, they've just raised the bar, the best children's book app to date.

Rating system

Use of technology

B - Absolutely brilliant (especially big bad wolf blowing), but I suspect the  iPad can be taken even further

Quality of Visual

A - Doff my cap to the illustrator; stunning

Value

B - Worth every penny of £4.99, but I think this price falls into the mid to high range for kids apps. It will be interesting to see if the publisher can sustain the price. But Nosy Crow will need to make the economics work fast. The publisher has four more apps slated for launch this year, and has recently appointed Ed Bryan as head of apps development. There's more on how Bryan created the app on Nosy Crow's blog. Nosy Crow will not be the only publisher holding its breath as it awaits sales numbers.

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