Best Picture Book Apps

Best Picture Book Apps – Classic Print to Digital Transitions – reviews from Digital-Storytime who have  published a fourth annual “best of the best” list for the top picture book apps for children, ages 2-12 years.

The list is broken down into five separate categories, including this one – five apps based on beloved print books. All five are popular or classic titles that make a seamless transition to digital, with thoughtful storytelling and relevant enhancements.

1. How Rocket Learned to Read

The 2010 New York Times bestselling title, How Rocket Learned to Read is one of those paper books that makes a great interactive app, especially with the thoughtful enhancements from Random House Kids. Not only is it lightly animated with nicely tailored interactive elements, but these additions rarely distract from an essentially a beautifully constructed story.

Tapping the page causes Rocket’s tail to wag or his eyes to blink, but most enhancements focus on the young reader. Tap-to-hear for individual words, along with highlighting word for word in time with the lovely narration by Hope Davis. Read more …

2. Dear Zoo

Based on the classic 1982 Rod Campbell title, Dear Zoo is a beautifully enhanced book app that takes the very best of a traditional ‘lift-the-flap’ title in print and brings it to digital seamlessly. Children will enjoy this story, about a child who writes to the zoo to send a new pet, but each animal is not quite right for different reasons.

A fun matching game is also included, letting kids match the animals in the book to the words used to describe them – like “too scary” or “too big”. Eventually a perfect pet is sent to the youngster, one that is just right. Children will love exploring the sounds and features of each animal, including: Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Camel, Snake, Monkey, Frog, and finally a Puppy. Read more …

3. How I Became a Pirate

How I Became a Pirate is based on the print title of the same name, published in 2003 by Melinda Long With word craft, timing and overall storytelling genius, Long weaves a tale about young Jeremy, a boy on a beach trip with his family. Without a word to his distracted parents, Jeremy joins a band of pirates to help them bury treasure.

The adventure is wish-fulfillment at its very best for readers of all ages, as the boy teaches the pirates about soccer, learns to sail the stormy seas and even has a pirate pillow fight. It’s not surprising that this title received many accolades in print. The app version was developed by Oceanhouse Media and is interactive in a way that enhances early reading skills. Read more …

4. The Boynton Collection

Each of these four books was originally published in print as a board book, in the 1980’s. The digital versions are easier to share, with lots of touchable elements that bounce slightly like a true pop-up book (and come alive with the addition of snorts, quacks and oinks).

The books also features narration by Billy J. Kramer, with highlighting word for word (or tap any word to hear it again). The collection includes: The Going to Bed Book, Moo, Baa, La La La!, Blue Hat, Green Hat, and Barnyard Dance!

Loud Crow apps are also extremely well made, with simple settings and easy, swipe-style page turning – an intuitive experience that makes you almost forget you are turning digital rather than real pages. Read more …

5. Curious George and the Firefighters

Curious George and the Firefighters by TribalNova is a universal app for iOS which features George and the man with the yellow hat on a trip to the firehouse. In this adapted app for iOS, this animated story features three options, a “listen”, “read and talk” and then “theatre”.

One of the features of the app is iReadWith which is designed to help with language development and help pre-school children learn to read using a shared reading activity which encourages readers to talk and participate using a prompt which encourages questions to help better understand the story as well as demonstrate understanding of the story by being an active versus passive participant.


Get your teeth into these. The Folio Prize longlist announced @TheFolioPrize

80 works of fiction published in the UK in 2014 have been nominated by The Folio Prize Academy for consideration by this year’s Folio Prize judges – 235 writers and critics who constitute the Academy have decided these are the best of the year.

The prize is selected using an innovative peer review process. The international body of writers and critics are immersed in the world of books and as such the Academy is uniquely positioned to identify the most outstanding writing of our time.

Chair of judges William Fiennes comments:

“The list of nominations for this year’s Folio Prize is both daunting and exhilarating. It’s not just that the list has such range and richness. Reading the books, it’s as if we’re eavesdropping on a marvellous conversation about what a novel might be.”

Biggest baddest books

Biggest, Baddest Book of BugsA school girl in California has told a publisher that it isn’t only boys who are interested in insects.

Parker Dains, seven, from Milpitas in California, wrote to Abdo Publishing after she discovered that the Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs that she was reading was part of a series called the Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys. She told her local paper the Milpitas Post: “It made me very unhappy. I was like, ‘What the?’ I said, ‘Dad we have to do something quickly.’”

So she wrote to Abdo, saying “I really enjoyed the section on Glow in the Dark bugs and the quizzes at the end”, but that “when I saw the back cover title, it said ‘Biggest Baddest Books for Boys’ it made me very unhappy. It made me very sad because there’s no such thing as a boy book. You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.”

The publisher responded and told her she had made “a very good point”. “After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too,” wrote Abdo, adding that it had “decided to take your advice”.

Parker has since received an early delivery of the series, which is now called simply Biggest, Baddest Books.

Interview with Audrey Niffenegger on Radio 4’s Front Row

The time traveler's wifeAudrey Niffenegger and Suzanne Dean from Vintage Classics will be interviewed about a new collection of ghost stories as part of a wider feature on book design, on 26th December on Radio 4’s Front Row.

The author of  The Time Traveler’s Wife will curate and illustrate the collection of ghost stories, to be published in Septemeber 2015. The “eclectic” collection, called Ghostly, will include “unusual, forgotten and previously unpublished stories, and of course, the odd cat”, said the publisher Vintage Classics.

There will be stories by authors Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link and Niffenegger will also write a story for the collection as well as illustrate it and introduce each story.

She said: “I’ve been reading ghost stories since I was tiny, they were some of the first stories I loved. The stories collected in Ghostly are the unusual ones, not the most popular but the ones that have haunted me over my years of reading.”

Suzanne Dean, creative director at Vintage Publishing, said: “I am looking forward to collaborating with Audrey. I love her illustrations and I am sure we are going to have great fun creating the perfect Ghostly package.”

Niffenegger is writing two books, one a sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Books to look out for early 2015

Mightier than the swordA spool of blue threadIt’s nice to have some really big titles to look forward to, here’s a selection of some coming out in the New Year.

Anne Tyler’s (lots of her books have been rated 5* by our readers) 20th novel is coming out in February. Entitled  A Spool of Blue Thread  it’s a story of family life depicting love and the conflicts within it.

Love him or loathe him, Jeffrey Archer’s fifth Clifton Chronicles novel – ‘Mightier than the Sword’, will also be out then. Both these two novels are already on order

Non-fiction for February includes Shop Girl by Mary Portas, a memoir from the “Queen of the High Street”.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel for a decade: The Buried Giant comes out in March, is hotly anticipated and a treat for his fans

Also in March, A Place Called Winter – the first historical novel from the prolific Patrick Gale.


Non-fiction includes Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig a personal and powerful look at depression, and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed in which Jon Ronson looks at public shaming in his usual interesting way.

RooftoppersFor younger readers, in January, Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty is launched with some fanfare “A monster-hunting adventure for 8-12s laced with warm-hearted irony, Darkmouth marks the arrival of a major new voice in children’s books.”

Jandy Nelson – author of The Sky is Everywhere—has a coming-of-age novel coming out I’ll Give You the Sun.

In June The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (highly rated by Leeds readers) is due out. A tale of survival, adventure, snow and wolves, Katherine Rundell won both a Blue Peter Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2014 for Rooftoppers




#FF Poem of the Week

The complete sonnets and poemsBlow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind   Act II, Scene 7 from ‘As You Like It’ by William Shakespeare (1600)

Blow, blow, thou winter wind.

Thou art not so unkind

As man’s ingratitude;

Thy tooth is not so keen,

Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:

Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:

Then, heigh-ho, the holly!

This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,

That dost not bite so nigh

As benefits forgot:

Though thou the waters warp,

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remember’d not.

Heigh-ho! sing, &c.

Good Reads best Scifi 2014

SandGood Reads Best Scifi 2014 has lots to choose from but the most popular book is The Martian!

The Martian by Weir, Andy – with 0ver 30,000 votes

So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed

 Both with over 14,000 votes

Lock in by Scalzi, John

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. 4% suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And 1% find themselves ‘locked in’ – fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. 1% doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the US that’s 1.7 million people ‘locked in’ – including the President’s wife and daughter. Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can fully restore the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge

 Sand by Hugh Howey

The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this scorched desert, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost. Deep within the sand lies the key to bringing their family together. And the secret that could tear their world apart