Developer: ThenQ B.V.
Price: $1.99 Download on the App Store
Digital formats provide the perfect medium for children’s storybooks to come to life. They can be interactive with both sound and action, but can sometimes venture into sensory overload. Developer ThenQ has struck a happy medium with their first App Store release Pansjo – Tummy. Pansjo (pronounced like poncho) is a clown that serves as the main character in what the developer has declared will be a series of digital picture books aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. In this debut story, Pansjo wakes up to find his tummy making noise and he embarks on a pint-sized adventure to solve the problem.
The Pansjo – Tummy digital picture book is a simple but complete story, thoroughly appropriate for the targeted age group. It tells of Pansjo the clown’s efforts to quiet his rumbling tummy and follows him to the baker and the farmer in pursuit of bread, cheese and milk. In addition to the touch-screen interaction with Pansjo’s clown nose and the spinning flower in his hat, each page also features an additional interaction that is relevant to the story. The story can be read either to or by its audience, and the accompanying sounds and music can be turned on or off dependent on how much interaction parents and children want. Pansjo also includes a small collection of coloring pages as an added feature.
Overall, the Pansjo – Tummy story is sweet and simple. The reader does a completely professional job of voicing the story, but again, parents can elect to turn the automatic reading on or off at will. Parents wishing to read the story themselves can simply tap on the book icon at the bottom of the screen to reveal the words to the story and children can navigate back and forth through the story to repeat pages or skip ahead as their interests dictate.
The choice of a clown as the main character in a digital book series may seem a bit disconcerting at first given how many children are frightened by clowns, but his appearance is more childish and jovial than creepy. In fact, his animation is subtle and he’s likeable enough. The story is clearly written with children in mind and is an ideal length suited for engaging young children without boring or overwhelming them. The design of the storybook is user-friendly and uncluttered, giving it a more natural picture book feel. The bonus coloring pages are nice, but better suited for the larger screen of the iPad than the smaller iPhone and touch screens.
The Pansjo – Tummy digital picture book app is sale priced at $1.99 for both iPhone and iPad. This price is advertised as a holiday sale price, but it is unclear how long it will remain in effect or if it will go up. As it is, the current price is right on cue for a professionally designed digital picture book that provides preschoolers with both a creative outlet and reading encouragement.