Review: Musical iPad Apps for Kids

I know. I know. I agree with you: instead of playing music on the iPad, kids should be using honest-to-goodness instruments, including those instruments known as their own voices. But sometimes kids want to play on the iPad and if some of those games and books are primarily musical in nature, who am I to force them to play Angry Birds instead? So here are a handful of musical apps that have found their way to my iPad. Let's start off with the Puff, the Magic Dragon app, based on the classic song and popular picture book from Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton and featuring Eric Puybaret's illustrations. Like most iPad books, it features the ability for the reader to read the text themselves or to have it read to them. And as one would suspect, you can also have Yarrow and his daughter sing the song to you as the animation proceeds. But at $5.99, some people will find the app a bit pricy for the level of interaction (comparatively minimal) and animation (a little "chunky" compared to the level of Puybaret's original illustrations). ADuckInNYC.jpgThe Secret Mountain's A Duck in New York City app is, just like Puff, the Magic Dragon, a song (by Connie Kaldor) and a book (illustrated by Fil & Julie) that is now an app. On the positive side, the conversion of the illustrations in a collage-like format into moving pictures is well-done. On the negative side, the song isn't as classic as "Puff," though that's probably an unfair standard for comparison. Again, you have the option of reading it yourself, having it read to you, and listening to the song, with a karaoke option thrown in. For $3.99, the app is a little more affordable than the Puff app, but I'd definitely listen to the song before committing the money (and the memory space) for the app. With both these apps, I felt like something was missing, like the interactive nature of the iPad begs for more control and interaction (and, frankly, in the case of the "Puff" app, finish) than what they offered. Perhaps we haven't yet found a good music-book-to-app app yet. (It seems like a Gustafer Yellowgold app, done well, would be truly game-changing for the kindie world.) But there are other apps with musical DNA to consider...

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore: The Short Film

MorrisLessmore.jpgI rarely stray from the subject of kids music here at Zooglobble, so when I do, you can rest assured it's with good reason. This is good reason. Before it was an acclaimed iPad app (or at least simultaneously), The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore was also a short animated film co-directed by author William Joyce (The Guardians of Childhood series and much more) and Brandon Oldenburg. To say too much would ruin the joy that's found within the roughly fifteen-minute movie, but it celebrates stories and books and movies and includes both goofy slapstick and tugged heartstrings. I'm not surprised that it picked up an Academy Award nomination for Animated Short Film. It is worthy of Pixar's short film work, which is no small praise from these quarters. I've embedded it below, but it would be doing a disservice to the movie if you didn't go here and watch it full screen, or, even better, watch on your TV via Roku or Apple TV.