Bottom Line: An interactive Halloween eBook that's more silly than scary. It's a good combination of an engaging story, amusing interactions, and a little bit of suspense for kids who like their Halloween filled with more happiness than horror.
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The title of this new Halloween themed e-book at first made me a little nervous. I've got a very sensitive child and I'm not fond of the nightmares he has. Thankfully, no one in my family is scared of meatballs and little boys wearing oven mitts. They are, however, big fans of silly books, and that makes developer 3CD's The Scariest Halloween Story Ever a very popular app in my house and likely many others.
In the style of the very popular app The Monster at the End of this Book, the oven-mitt boy continually tells the reader to stop reading to avoid the scariest thing ever at the end of the book. Along the way, there are cute interactions that are only a little bit scary. The user uses a spotlight to find the boy hidden in the stormy night, throws meatballs covered in blood red tomato sauce onto the screen, and draws with sidewalk chalk.
Perhaps the freakiest moment for me is the page where the bugs flock toward a finger held on the screen. I can only make it to five bugs before I flinch too much and lift up my finger. Later pages with a witch and a ghost may be a little creepy for especially sensitive younger children, but by that point in the book it's pretty clear it's not meant to be scary.
In addition to the fun theme, this book and its text have many great uses in classrooms and language therapy. There are several idioms to learn, including "scaredy-cat," "scare the pants off you," and "eyes popped out." It's also a perfect book to practice making predictions and inferences, both skills that are very important in Common Core State Standards. The supposedly scary thing that the boy is trying to keep the user from seeing is definitely worth stopping to make predictions about. What could it be, and will it be scary?
The story is narrated by a child, which can sometimes be annoying. However, the young narrator does a great job with excellent emphasis—it's fun to listen to this app. Unfortunately, the sound effects and music can't be turned off separately. The music is nice, but after the tenth therapy session using the app, I thought I might lose my mind. I tried turning sound effects off, but most of the fun in the app is in the sound effects.
While the book includes a helpful page index, the words are not highlighted as they are read. While this is very important to many who use and create e-books, it's not an issue for me. This is not a book designed to teach children to read, and the focus really isn't on the actual words. It's in the style of a picture book to read out loud in story time, not an early reader book where you point to every word as you read.
This is the best Halloween e-book I've used, and I'm not scared at all to recommend it for parents, teachers, and therapists. 3CD apps don't include any advertising, in-app purchases, or social media links, making it a safe app to let children explore on their own. For only $.99, it's definitely worth a download for Halloween fans and entertaining enough to keep kids busy until it's time for Santa and Rudolph books.
Heather Hetler is thankful that this app didn't include mice, which would have made it very scary for her. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.