What happens when you combine timeless stories like the Velveteen Rabbit and Johnny Appleseed with the latest mobile technology? A series of engaging new apps from Ruckus Mobile Media that infuse familiar tales with a touch of glitz.
Each application – available for download on iTunes – pairs a celebrity reader with a top notch illustrator and a hip musician to re-imagine the story through the spoken word, music and images.
The story of Pecos Bill is told by Robin Williams, illustrated by Tim Raglin, and features music by Ry Cooder. What an inspired combination!
One of my favorites is the story of Johnny Appleseed, told in his wonderful baritone by Garrison Keillor with crisp illustrations by Stan Olson and music by Mark Oâ€™Connor. The pairing of these three artists really gives this tried and true story new life.
Each application from Ruckus has several options to engage with the story. You can choose to watch the video, which combines the illustrations with the spoken word and music, but does not display text. This “video mode” is a bit of a misnomer – the illustrations don’t move like a cartoon. Instead, the camera pans over each illustration, as if you were watching a Ken Burns documentary.
Here’s an image from The Velveteen Rabbit to show you the quality of the illustrations:
You can also choose to read the book without words or music. In this mode – which seems a bit less successful – the text is shown, but it can be cumbersome to read on the small mobile screen and is not nearly as engaging as the video mode.
While I didn’t test out the “Read and Record” mode, it definitely sounds intriguing. You can record your own voice – or someone else’s voice like a grandparent – reading the story and it’s synchronized with the illustrations. It’s a great way to keep a far off relative involved in your kid’s life.
Overall, the applications I experienced were captivating, but they will appeal to a certain type of kid. If your child loves books and classic tales, these apps will be a great fit. If your kid looks at your iPhone as only a way to play video games or watch videos, these slower-paced tales may bore them.
Each app usually costs $3.99 from iTunes, but as a special, Ruckus Mobile Media is offering the The Velveteen Rabbit application, as told by Meryl Streep, for free – but for today only! So if this sounds intriguing, get on over to iTunes now and start downloading!