Little Polar Bear
Verlag Friedrich Oetinger GmbH
Lite version free on Android and Apple iOS, full version £2.49
Little Polar Bear is pretty dang cute.
Based on the popular series of children’s books about a polar bear cub named Lars, Little Polar Bear is an interactive children’s book about Lars and his misadventures when the ice sheet he’s asleep upon breaks away from his dad and floats off.
Cue various An Inconvenient Truth references and pictures of polar bears paddling pitifully in the Pacific (I know polar bears don’t swim in the Pacific but the alliteration won).
It comes in a LITE version, which is free and has about three pages of the story and one game, as well as a warning (when using it on iPad) not to enjoy the LITE version with your kids, lest it ruin the story telling experience while you scrabble to pay and upload the full version ( £2.49), which is cute.
I like the idea of a read-aloud book with interactive elements; anything to get those damn kids into reading, right? And this is certainly a cute offering – the narrator Colin Solman is spot on, reading at a good pace with an engaging tone and will repeat words when they are tapped, to perfect pronunciation (hands up all those who have been embarrassed in adult life by repeating malformed words you’d read, but never heard pronounced…). There’s also the option to turn off narration if you’d prefer to read rather than listen.
There is the option to ‘interact’ with the pictures of Lars onscreen, generally limited to moving him from side to side and hearing him squawk ‘Dad!’ – very techno pop up book so nothing much new here. Words are highlighted as they are read, which is handy for first steps, and there’s also the option to hide the text, which to me rather defeats the purpose of a book, but is understandable in the context of an audio and learning to read book.
The art is nice and matches the original series well, as far as I can tell, and the app is simply set out, with easy instructions.
The games are for children but are pitched right; challenging enough for kids without being frustrating. It’s not a particularly educational game (collect all the fish!) but it certainly makes you crave rainbow trout. Mmmmmm.
All in all, it’s a cute offering and better than TV in the educational stakes. £2.49 seems quite steep to pay for an app, but for a kids book, sounds about right, so it really depends on which way you look at it.
Protip: for those not wanting to shell out for the full version, there’s a less informative but cheaper offering via YouTube viz. the animated show (remember kids, readers are leaders! TV viewers are society eschewers!):