Bottom line: Frank the frog's parents told him he can do anything he sets his mind to, but he wants to fly like a bird. Highly recommended!
This app is a superb example of why you don’t need lots of interactivity or animation in order for a digital version of a book to be very successful. What you definitely do need is a wonderful story and this app has that in spades.
Based on the book by Eric Drachman, it is about a young frog named Frank. If you’ve ever told a child that they could do anything they set their mind to, you will understand the dilemma that Frank’s parents find themselves in when their son tells them his greatest wish – he wants to fly. At that point, his mother and father explain that what they really meant was that Frank could do any frog thing. Flying is NOT a frog thing, it’s a bird thing, so unfortunately, Frank will not be able to realize his aeronautical ambitions. What follows is a really quite lovely story illustrating powerful lessons about kindness, friendship and self-understanding.
The illustrations are beautifully rendered. There is no animation but there are well-timed pans and zooms. The narration is spot on, not just by the storyteller but also Frank’s parents and, of course, Frank himself. I particularly love that Frank and his peers are voiced by children. The ambient sounds of birds, frogs, insects and water as well as the limited amount of gentle music included all contribute to the app’s overall peaceful feel, making it perfectly suited to children who tend to find lots of bright colors, sounds and interactivity over-stimulating.
As you would expect from an Oceanhouse Media book, there are the usual three reading modes of Read to Me, Read it Myself, and AutoPlay. In Read to Me mode the words are highlighted as they are read, repeated when touched and, if you tap and hold a paragraph, it will repeat.
There is none of the visual and audio labeling that is in their Dr. Seuss apps, however, and I do miss that feature. There is some limited interactivity - I understand the intent of the developer is to hide the interactive elements so kids can have fun finding them; however I find that when my children are randomly stabbing at the page it detracts from the experience of reading the book. I would prefer that the app highlighted where interactivity can be found (as a setting that an adult could turn off if the children enjoy the surprise element or use the app so much they know where everything is). The only other feature that would be welcome is a page listing which would enable the reader to browse the contents and go directly to a particular page.
In summary, the delightful story, charmingly illustrated, already existed in print. What Oceanhouse Media has done with this digital version of the book is added pitch-perfect narration, great sound effects, and enough movement and interactivity that children will have fun reading the book without becoming over-stimulated. Combine this with features supporting the development of early reading skills and you have a highly recommended app, particularly with a solid $2.99 price tag.
If you would like to purchase A Frog Thing please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who loves to swim, which is most definitely a frog thing. Deanne blogs at www.smallbutkindamighty.com.