Title: Santa's Merry Band
Compatibility: iPad // iOS 5.1
Size: 341 MB
Description: I know. I've reviewed a lot of Mibblio apps recently (and haven't even had a chance to review the main app). But they keep coming out with seasonally appropriate ones -- Halloween, Hanukkah, and now Christmas.
The basic structure of the app is the same as with their other apps -- the song plays while the user can add or remove different tracks (e.g., guitar, percussion, keyboards) from the recorded song while simultaneously being able to play melody and stringed/guitar instruments in harmonically compatible keys, not to mention percussion. It basically lets kids (and adults) play along in ways that allow some creativity but also help make whatever comes out sonically sound decently.
In addition, the songs are accompanied by illustrations that feature lyrics to those songs. The result is a musical picture book over which the user has some small control.
Once you've done one Mibblio, you've sort of done them all, conceptually, so the value of any particular app (or individual "mibblet," as they call each song) comes down to the song itself and the accompanying illustrations. There are 8 seasonally-appropriate songs in this particular app:
- G. Love "Christmas Baby" (illustrated by Gabriele Tafuni)
- The Brian Setzer Orchestra "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" (Leo Antolini)
- Guster "¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?" (Larry 3)
- Indigo Girls "I Feel the Christmas Spirit" (Laura Wood)
- Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler "Marshmallow World" (Villie Karabatzla)
- KT Tunstall "Mele Kalikimaka" (Kim Sielbeck)
- Dan Hicks "Santa's Workshop" (Joey Ahlbum)
- Rosie Thomas "Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year?" (Karolina Lijlema)
I liked most of these previously-released tracks-turned-apps, though sometimes what works well on record doesn't work as well in an interactive app -- the Rosie Thomas track, which I have loved since first released, has some kind-of-long instrumental sections during which not much happens in the app itself. But most of the tracks are quick and snappy, with illustrations -- an area in which Mibblio has definitely distinguished itself -- that will be a treat to young readers/listeners/whatever we're calling app users these days. Especially fun are the Indigo Girls' bluegrassy take on "I Feel the Christmas Spirit" and British duo Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler's rendition of the fluffy chestnut "Marshmallow World," which has a suitably fluffy set of accompanying illustrations.
At a tick under $5, the app is a little pricy, but considering you get 8 songs, it's a decent value even if every single song doesn't appeal to you. Your family will get decent use out of it for 5-6 weeks, and then you can put it away (read: delete it from your iPad) for eleven months, so it'll be fresh for next year.
Age Range: 3 through 7
Note: I was provided a copy of this app for possible review.