App Review: The Little Bug

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Join a curious little bug as he searches for his special talent in this debut picture book app from Jackie Littman ($2.99 iTunes). As the little bug explores the garden, he meets other bugs who show off their special talents. The ants show him how they tunnel underground, the bees fill honeycomb with honey, and snails can climb upside down. In the end, it's the spider who shows the little bug how to spin thread. Using his new talent, the little bug spins a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

There's a lot to love in this app, which has quickly become one of my favorites.

  1. The app is truly a work of art. Each page is highly interactive, with every element on the page responding to a tap with movement and sound. Created as a master thesis as part of a MFA program, everything in this app--illustrations, fonts, music--was made specifically for this app. Older children interested in designing apps or picture books might be interested in the blog the developer kept during the process.
  2. The Little Bug is suitable for a wide range of ages, and it has so much replay value. Young children will enjoy listening to the story, learning about bugs, or finding the hidden ladybug on each page. As your children grow so do opportunities to talk about each bug's special talent and the life cycle of a butterfly.
  3. Learning continues when the iPad is turned off. Because so many of these bugs can be seen in the summer, The Little Bug is the perfect book to read before heading outside to play or to go on a nature walk. Why not read the book app and then go for a walk to see how many bugs you can find? Then head to the library to learn more about the bugs you saw on your walk. Additionally, the developer has created free activity sheets to accompany the app. These sheets can be downloaded near the bottom of the developer's website.
  4. Kids really do like this app. I had the chance to use this app in a family storytime recently. The kids loved telling me when they found the hidden ladybug (and, believe me, they told me as loudly as they could.) The katydid surprised many of them, too, as most of the kids had never seen or heard of one previously. And it wasn't just the kids who enjoyed the app at that storytime. A number of parents wanted to know where they could download the app. 

If I have one quibble with the app, it's that the app doesn't highlight words as they're being read. However, with the entertaining yet educational storyline and gorgeous and interactive illustrations, the app is definitely one to add to your collection.