Bottom Line: A toddler app with no farm animals! Nice book about a cute monkey, but lacking in options, energy, and some of the basic educational support we look for in an ebook.
Oho’s Big Day! is a new ebook about Oho the monkey designed by EzEz Apps for toddlers. The book is written in rhyme and illustrated with a combination of computer graphics and illustrations. This is the first app in what is planned to be a series of apps featuring Oho.
The story follows Oho’s escapades through the jungle one day. He eats bananas with his feet, helps Larry lion, plays in the river with Ellie the Elephant, and picks flowers for his mother.
There are multiple interactive elements on each page. On one page, Oho pops across the screen while the text is read, while other elements are activated with a tap, including a dragonfly that flies across the screen, a spider that drops from the web.
The rhymes in this book work, but are sometimes stilted. The rhythm doesn’t remain consistent, sometimes even changing within a couplet, like in the line, “Oho gives his mom the flowers and gets a big hug… He’s home now, nice and warm and snug!”'
This is a child-safe app, with absolutely no external links. While it’s designed to be a shared experience between toddler and adult, the lack of external links makes it safe for toddlers to explore independently, as well.
Although this app is likely to be enjoyed by toddlers and even preschoolers (my five year old daughter enjoyed it), it lacks any options for sound and presentation. The book’s text is read automatically on each page. Words are not highlighted to emphasize the text or read when touched.
There is also no ability to change the sound. There is a constant jungle noise in the background, with birds and bugs chirping, and the animation also has sound. The sounds are appropriate, but I needed to mute my iPad to stop the chirping after a few pages.
I also wanted an option to restart the story. The user can go back one page, advance one page, or repeat the current page, but there is no home button in this app. The story must be finished entirely in order to start over, or the user has to go back page-by-page to the beginning.
Additional language reinforcement for the animations would also be nice. Naming each object as it’s tapped is helpful, especially for those less commonly known animals. Also, many ebooks include a simple game or two, such as matching, puzzles, or coloring. Though more Oho apps are planned, some extras in this app would increase its value.
Finally, and perhaps it's because of the similarities between this app and the Kid-estorybooks apps, but the narrator could really use a bit more enthusiasm. At $1.99, the app doesn't stack up well to Open Wide Snap or Hide Run Growl, which are both free.
Oho has a lot of promise—he’s cute, the animations are engaging, and toddlers will likely find the app fun as a little-finger screen tapping is rewarded frequently on each page. It's worth a look for parents of toddlers, especially parents maxed out on farm animal apps.
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Heather Hetler is the mother of three great kids (10, 8, 5) and just completed full-time graduate work in Speech-Language Pathology. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.