The Musings, Notes & Book/App reviews of a Children's Writer

Posts tagged ‘android Apps’

Back to school with book apps

By now the children are all back to school across the country.


They’re getting settled in their new classes with new teachers, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There will be new challenges as they overcome the summer brain drain and start filling their minds with exciting new lessons.

A fun way of re-enforcing their newly acquired reading skills on the week-ends are digital book apps. The multi sensory experience brings the reader into the story and soon they’ll be begging for more. This is music to any parent’s ears because let’s face it, they’re so many distractions these days that reading isn’t always their first choice.

I had this experience with my reluctant reader and it inspired me to dive into the magical world of digital book apps.


The app store and Google play is flooded with apps so it’s sometimes difficult for parents to know where to start and what to download.

Digital Storytime is a renowned and trusted source in both the literary and app world and they have recently released their top 25 list of book apps. They shine a light on educational apps that can become hidden in the app store so that’s where I would start. In fact I read their app reviews when researching for my sons apps and when writing for kids. I was more than thrilled when Grendel’s Great Escape was listed in their top 25 best stories for 2013. It is an honor for it to be noticed and placed alongside these other amazing books.

It’s also perfect timing because September is ADHD awareness month and the main character was inspired by a child with ADHD. He’s messy, disorganized, adventurous and a whole lot of fun.

Martin's mess

Martin tackles the laundry monster

Download it and let me know what your kids think.

Digital Storytime’s Top 25 Best story books

Grendel’s Great Escape adventure story for iPad  Android


A visit with the Author Jonathan Ayre

Welcome to the first of the Interview Series where I’ll be picking the brains of some of the most creative people in the KidLit world.

I’ve recently discovered the Hatty the Tiger brand which has two amazing picture books and a book app. The stories are beautifully told with great messages such as good eating habits, strength of character and being different.

I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan Ayre.  Jonathan is the writer, illustrator and creator of this unique brand. The theme song “The Hatty Rap” is catchy and my son and  I absolutely love it. I’m sure your kids will love to see the  Hatty Rap video.


HATTY & THE HARD BEANS! coverThe Tiger That Wasn't

App Store link   Android version on GOOGLE Play

Here’s what Jonathan had to share…..

Q: Tell us about yourself and the Hatty brand?

Jonathan: I’ve been a writer for most of my life through short stories, songs, screenplays and magazine articles, and my books about Hatty the tiger, grew out of stories I made up for my own young children. They’re six years-old now, and although as a family we are not vegetarians, they’ve grown up enjoying lots of different fruits and vegetables and I realize how lucky we are with this. Hatty became a vegetarian tiger because  in a world where ‘junk food’ is advertised so much, I hoped that if my children knew why fruit and veg were ‘cool’ and good to eat, it would help them to make better choices on their own. Being vegetarian, was also a way to make Hatty a more gentle tiger and take him away from the usually ferocious stereotype. Among a feast of wonderful books that are out there, I like to believe the Hatty stories have helped my own children to think ‘outside the (junk) box’!.

Q: What makes this brand unique?

Jonathan: Well, because Hatty is a vegetarian tiger it throws up a lot of other issues apart from just diet. There’s peer-pressure, fear and isolation involved, as well as important character issues like conviction, persistence, kindness and individuality. Hatty is not a ‘goody-goody’, and his behavior and ideas aren’t always the best, but he tries hard and has a lot of fun on the way to learning his lessons, and I’d say that this is the essence of the ‘brand’: A fun and unexpected way of educating children about  issues of diet, cooking and character.

Q: What age range would this brand appeal to?

Jonathan: 3-8 years-old would be the main age group to read the Hatty books, ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ and the sequel, ‘Hatty And The Hard Beans!’ Though I teach children up to 14 in writing and illustration workshops based on the books, I always read the books to the younger ones. Having said that, everyone likes to be read to, and because the books are written in fun, rhyming couplets, I often get requests on school visits to read to classes up to 10 years old.

Q: What sort of feedback have you received so far?

Jonathan: Quite honestly, the reviews for both books have been terrific – and the app which has only been out for a few weeks is just now starting to receive reviews. The direct feedback I get from parents and teachers on my school tours has been really positive and I get lots of letters from the children after my visits, with ideas for new Hatty adventures  or telling me their favorite parts of the books. Hatty really seems to resonate with many of them and I feel inspired by the discussions and the issues his character raises.

Q: What lead to the decision to create “The Tiger Who Wasn’t” into an app as opposed to an eBook? 

Jonathan: Actually, I did make an eBook of, ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ while I was making the app. The whole business is so relatively new that I wanted to see how each part works and the eBook was a small expense since I did the work myself. However, making an app is THE way to go – and I was never in any doubt that I would do it. From the first time I saw my children ‘playing’ with a book app and enjoying the feedback and interaction (with a great story of course) I realized that the future of electronic picture books would never be a straightforward eBook..

Q: Tell us about your app!  What is your favorite feature and what would you like to convey to the end-user? 

Jonathan: It was a lot of fun making the story come to life – literally – with tap animations, original music and sound fx. I’ve seen a lot of storybook apps where I’ve been impressed with the technical side of their presentation, but the essence of them, a good story, has been lost in a lot of bells and whistles. I would like to think that the solid heart of ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ is a really fun and touching story that young children can actively get involved with and learn from. It still makes me smile to see the joy and laughter that children get when they make the animals move or the skunk fart!! Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great games and activities included with the app also, like the Coloring Pages, Hatty’s Hide & Seek’, or ‘Hatty’s Avocado Roll (all 20 skill levels of it), but I like to think that these are unexpected and enjoyable features that complement the story. For me, the story remains the star part of the app and includes 3 different  ‘reading’ versions and text highlighting, together with the original music and fx.

Q: What’s been the most difficult part of creating an app? 

Jonathan: Raising the money to make it, was pretty tough! Thankfully, the books were very well received by the local school in Cyprus where I live, and having written, illustrated and published them myself, the children, teachers and parents here were fantastic. I had many sales through recommendations and word of mouth and, Ruth, the owner of a local bookstore, ‘The Moufflon Bookshop’, was incredibly helpful and supportive in helping me get the word out across the island. Apart from that, having raised the money, it was a question of how to get the most value for the consumer out of the ideas we had. The developers I finally chose, Dragonpencil of Savannah, Georgia, were brilliant here; guiding me through the process with their expertise and experience, and opening my eyes to new possibilities.

Q: Now that your app is published, were there any unexpected surprises during the process? 

Jonathan: It took 6 months to make the app from the day I signed my contract with Dragonpencil, the developers. There were many surprises which came from going through that process of drawing, animating, making the sound fx and seeing it all come to life. During the process I was wracking my brains as to how I would publicize it, and probably the biggest surprise is that this turned out to be a music video, ‘The Hatty Rap!’ The first person I sent this to, having posted it on my website and YouTube, was Karen Robertson(The Empress of App!). Her positive and immediate response was a big and wonderful surprise. Feedback from those who have earned your respect is a great feeling.

Q: Any words of advice for other writers who are thinking about creating apps? 

Jonathan: Trust your dreams, buy an iPad, research as much as possible before you start – and NEVER underestimate the intelligence of children! Apart from that, it’s vital you choose your developer carefully: A good one will help you realize your dream, while a bad one will cramp it or kill it. Generally – to be happy – work for the heights, but expect the lows! That way you’ll always be pleasantly surprised and never disappointed

Q: Between the book & the book app? Which has had better sales results & is that what you expected. 

Jonathan: The app has only just come out and is doing well so far, whereas my books have been out for a year. Apart from selling the books on Amazon etc, I also offer personally signed copies with free worldwide mailing direct from my website. It’s all PayPal, so customers know they are protected and they seem to like the signed copies. It’s more time investment for me and expense with mailing and packing, but in the end the revenue is the same for me as selling on Amazon, and it’s a more personal touch for customers. Dollar-wise my book revenue is still ahead because the app is brand new, but because sales are totally dependent on marketing and lucky breaks, every single sale  – whether it be a book or an app – means that someone else is enjoying my work and there’s no dollar figure for that feeling!

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Jonathan: Have fun. Making an app is a journey and giving it a deadline can be your best friend. It can rarely be perfect in your eyes, because you’re learning all the time. The important thing is to enjoy the process and give as much as you can. The smile on a child’s face when they first get their hands on your app is a thrill that never fades!

The Tiger That Wasn't

App: The Tiger Who Wasn’t

App Store link

Android version on GOOGLE Play

Music video (Gotta watch!)

Hatty Books


Social Media links: FB:

A Book App….What’s that?

Each day Children’s writers and app developers convert wonderful classics  and  create amazing new books as apps. There are countless titles based on age, topic or content, just waiting to be discovered & downloaded.

During kids books & app discussions, the first question often asked is “What’s a book app?” A Book App is so much more than an eBook, it’s a digital book brought to life with animation, music, narration and fun-filled activities or games woven into the story. Book apps encourage kids to read, play and explore and are available for use on digital tablets such as the iPad, and smart phones.

Apps multi

Best of all, they’re very inexpensive and provide a unique, entertaining and learning environment. Most fall within the range of 99c-$4.99, a flat fee which usually won’t have ‘in app purchases’. Paid book apps are a preferable option to free apps which bombard our kids with ads or prompt a purchase in order to proceed.


You can find book apps  in the iTunes App Store, under the Books category. In Google Play, you can find book apps under Android Apps > categories > books & reference. There you’ll find wonderful, interactive stories that deliver an animated reading experience. Book Apps likeGrendel’s Great Escape for iPad /Android and Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold for iPad/iPhone allow children to interact with the story, through reading, music and fun activities.

itunes app books location

Google play GGE









– For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a book app, visit the Blue Sandpiper Imprints Kids Korner.

– To see a 2-minute video called “Kids Have Fun Reading on the iPad” visit

Not sure which book apps are suitable for your child? These sites feature the best children apps and reviews, and  provide direct links for downloading.

App Source

Digital Storytime


The Appy Mall 

I heart this app 

Top Ten Children’s Apps

In the vast sea of apps available today, choosing the right ones can be a difficult and daunting task for parents. As I writer and mom, I have a fondness for apps that encourage learning with fun interaction and well crafted stories which encourage reading. Here are my top ten favorites Apps listed by age group.

Beck & Bo –Preschool


Beck and Bo is non stop fun and giggles for preschoolers. The unique creative artistic style and music is a great backdrop for the activities and it’s a great learning environment and entertainment for children.

Little Fox Music Box – Preschool


Little fox will appeal to music lovers of all ages. This App is a clear favorite with three interactive songs, a record your own song function and the awesome music studio with sounds of every kind to discover. Children will never get tired of playing with Mr Fox.

Leo’s pad Appisode1 – Preschool

This is a perfect blend of entertainment and education which encourages user interaction. Features include lovable characters, amazing 3-D animation.Kids engage in a series of story-related activities which includes drawing a birthday card or finding letters and shapes as they watch the animated story staring Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci

My Beastly ABCs – PreSchool

Kid’s join in this interactive adventure on a magical day filled with friendly monsters from around the world! This brilliant original story comes to life in an educational, fun experience sure to enchant kids. Features include entertaining games and fun interactive activities.

Grendel’s Great Escape ages 4-8yrs 


Android Tablet:
Blue Sandpiper Imprints


A fun and funny show and tell’s day adventure about Martin, a messy little boy and his pet Ferret. Kids will love the animation, interactive features and surprises on every page. The Features include original background music and sound effects, as well as the read to me/read by myself function with highlighted words.

The house that went on strike ages 4-8yrs

The home and it’s appliances go on strike against it’s family to win their respect. This app about respecting the home is wonderfully told in rhyme and beautifully illustrated. Features include loads of interactivity, Original music and word highlighting.

The Magnificent traveling palace ages 4-8yrs                        

You’ll be instantly transported to India in The Magnificent Traveling Palace which is a unique animated book app for children. This app uses technology to bring the enchanting world of India and it’s culture to children. The captivating colorful 3-D illustration and animations together with original music, authentic sounds, and rich interactivity, create an exciting Indian atmosphere through which the adventure comes to life.

Treasure Kai and the lost gold of shark Islandages  5-10yrs



This is one of the most unique and original Apps available which has set the standard for interactivity and activities that move the game forward. Join Kai a modern day explorer as he embarks on a treasure hunt through history in search of lost gold. This unique treasure hunt adventure app uses a choose-your-adventure format.





Gone Wishing ages 5-9yrs

Gone wishing is a highly interactive story about a Genie who couldn’t grant wishes. This app features a fantastic world of Goblins, Fairies, loads of magic and amazing graphics.

The Fantastic Flying books of Morris Lessmore ages 5-9yrs

Based on the short film, this story app is just lovely. This well illustrated, wonderfully told story is vividly stunning. The animation and activities such as the piano and the alphabet cereal are seamlessly integrated into the story.

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