One of the things that’s lovely about parenting a child who is mad about books is sharing your own childhood favourites with your lovely child.
When Flea showed early signs that she was going to follow in her parents’ footsteps and be a book lover, I was SO excited. I couldn’t wait to read her all the Faraway Tree books, and hand over my battered red hardback Famous Five books.
No such luck.
“It’s a bit boring, Mummy,” said Flea, as she ignored Moon Face and Fanny in favour of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.
Outrageous. But I suppose she has a point. The books we read as children can seem a little on the slow and tame side to our own children, who are used to everything moving a bit faster, and being a bit more sophisticated.
But proving that some publishers really can move with the times, the clever people at Egmont have launched a brand new iOS app based on the Mr Tickle story, with more Mr Men apps planned for the coming months.
I was invited down to London this week to meet Mr Tickle (OMG. I think I RSVP’d so fast, I sprained something) and try out the app for myself.
In short, it’s brilliant.
The app is built around the original story and original illustrations, and children can either read the book independently, have it read to them, or follow along as it’s being read by David Walliams (who does an amazing job, and perfectly captures the warm, but silly spirit of the book).
On each page, there’s a range of animated effects, many of which can be controlled by the user. Children can make worms pop out of holes, knock down (and pile up) stacks of fruit, put cookies into a jar, and loads of other small interactive features. If the book is being read out loud, the words are highlighted as they’re spoken, which is great for early readers. It’s all been tested to be very intuitive for children aged 3 and up.
Alongside the story, there’s also a colouring and drawing section, including a nifty little feature where children can drag and drop graphic elements onto the screen to create their own Mr Men character. And best of all (if you’re me) is the Whack a Worm game, which involves splatting worms as they pop out of holes. It’s the sort of thing that over-competitive adults like me might possibly find just a teeny bit compulsive. I apologise to the nice people from Egmont who waited patiently for half an hour while I took over their iPad in an ultimately fruitless attempt to beat their high score.
I am not a HUGE fan of screens for pre-schoolers but that’s because so much pre-school electronic entertainment is just lazy. The Mr Men team have created something charming, engaging and challenging enough to be entertaining over more than enough time to justify the £2.49 price tag. It’s properly English in its sense of humour, and there’s a huge nostalgic appeal to the whole thing.
The Mr Tickle app is available now in the App Store.
Note: My travel expenses were paid to attend this event. I also had a photo taken with Mr Tickle and the resident balloon artist made
me my daughter a balloon Mr Happy and Mr Grumpy. Quite brilliant.