iPhone Life magazine

Review: The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories - Dr. Seuss by Oceanhouse Media

I feel like I should begin this review with a rhyme, but alas I have nothing so some other time.  Anyway, I typically don’t stray far from games when it comes to writing reviews, because that’s what I have the most experience with.  However, when I was presented with the opportunity to review this particular omBook from Oceanhouse Media I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  I’m glad I did.  The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Tales is not only an entertaining read (or listen, depending on tastes), but it’s actually given me a reason to sit down and spend “iPad time” with my son, whereas usually my endeavors into the iOS world are a solo effort.

Tadd and Todd
 

As the name implies, this book contains a story called The Bippolo Seed, along with other tales from the famed Dr. Seuss – there are 7, to be exact.  Each tale is comprised of all the rhyme and whimsy Dr. Seuss is famous for, as well as the simple yet stunning illustrations that always accompany his work.  There are three options for perusing each book: “Read It Myself”, “Read To Me”, and “Auto Play”.  Auto Play is nice if you just want to sit the device in front of your child and go, because it doesn’t require any interaction.  However, to quit this mode your only recourse it so hit the Home button and launch the app again.

The other two modes are what really make this worth having in electronic format.  The big difference is that in “Read To Me” mode the entire story is narrated, while in “Read To Myself” mode, well, you have to read it yourself.  In both modes you can “flip” back and forth between “pages” at will by swiping right to move forward and left to move back through the pages.  You can also tap on items in the picture and a description will pop up so you know what it is.  If there’s no narration going on the description will also be spoken.  What I really like is that you can tap on individual words in the paragraph and they will be spoken to you, which makes this a really good way for younger kids to learn their words and be able to associate them with the printed version.

The Great Henry McBride
 

At any time (except for in Auto Play mode) you can return to the main menu by clicking on an arrow in the lower left corner of the screen.  You can always pick up where you left off on the last story you read.  Sadly, the software doesn’t keep your position separately for each book, so if you start one story and then jump to the next, you’ll have to start the first story over again the next time you go to read it.  It would be nice if that would be something the developers would address at some point, but it’s not overly critical.

The stories are pretty much like any other Dr. Seuss story, so if you’re a fan you’ll be sure to love them, and if you’re not you probably won’t like these any better.  If you’ve never read a Dr. Seuss story but like funny, crazy tales that are easy to read and often don’t completely make sense, you should enjoy this collection.  Assuming that these were previously published stories, then the visuals are either reproductions from those books or the artist really knows how to capture the look of a Dr. Seuss story.  The graphics are simple yet elegant, with enough shading to give it some depth but not too much detail to feel cluttered.  The narration is quite well done, and it seems like they got different people for most of the stories.  I was also pretty impressed with the sound effects, as they do a great job of helping the story come to life while not getting in the way of the narration.

Gustav The Goldfish
 

Overall I found this collection of Dr. Seuss stories quite entertaining.  Just as importantly, though, they are presented in such a way that it makes kids want to sit and listen / interact with the stories, helping them to learn to read on their own or as you the adult share with them.  I still think the Auto Play feature is a bit awkward, especially since it forces you to hit the Home button to stop it, but otherwise this is a well constructed package with lots of value.  You might even find you enjoy it when your kids aren’t around!

Overall Score: 9/10
App Store Link

This app is universal and was reviewed on an iPad 1 running iOS 4.3.5.

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.