Bottom Line: Inspiring introduction to the early life of the man now known as the Steve Jobs of his time that would be even better if it stuck to the facts.
Thomas Edison: “Little Al, the Inventor” by Think Design Studio is a mostly factual recounting of Edison’s childhood and how he became the country’s greatest inventor. It is a straightforward e-book that relies on the text and colorful hand drawn artwork to tell the story of how Young Al got his start inventing. It’s an inspiring story that should appeal to a wide range of users. It has particular significance for the large number of Smart Apps for Kids readers who have special needs children since Edison accomplished all he did despite his hearing loss.
The mechanics of the app are sound with smooth professional ex-news anchor narration. It has three options: read it myself, read to me and auto play. It also includes the ability to have the text appear in paragraph form with the associated picture dimmed. Tapping a page brings up a navigation bar with icons for home, settings, and a back button. These features are not generally found in 99 cent apps and are indicative of the care and quality with which this app was produced.
My favorite feature in the app is another extra called learn words. It contains flashcards showing all the difficult or new words introduced in the text. The cards can be used to review new vocabulary, check comprehension or jumpstart a class discussion about the book.
While the app is well executed, I wish it stuck strictly to the facts rather than including fictionalized episodes from Edison’s youth. Edison’s heroics in saving the train stationmaster’s son are well documented. His reward was learning to use the telegraph and that is what really jumpstarted his career as an inventor. Presently, there are limited non-fiction e-book titles and even fewer biographies. Students are often required to read non-fiction titles so it would be nice to have a wide variety of factually accurate e-book apps from which to get acquainted with this genre. This app is listed a part of the Famous People Series so additional titles may be forthcoming.
One funny thing I noticed is that several renderings of young Al strongly resemble Curious George. One such instance ironically is on a page talking about Al being very curious. Thomas Alva Edison is one most admired and skilled men who has ever lived. He deserves a more faithful depiction to go along with his inspiring tale of overcoming a disability. If it were not for young Al’s curiosity we might not have iPhones, apps and many of the conveniences we take for granted today.
If you would like to purchase Little Al, the Inventor ($.99 iPad/iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using the following link:
Jill Goodman chose to write this review after visiting Edison's winter home in Ft. Myers, FL with her son who portrayed Edison at his school's annual FloriDays.