Review: Harold and the Purple Crayon for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Ryan Blundell on 1 Mar 2012 05:09 pm EST

"Rocks on my device. Cute book my kid will completely enjoy." - snomin App World review

Harold and the Purple Crayon was originally a children’s book from 1955 by Crockett Johnson. It was Harold’s first adventure in a series of 9 books. The idea behind Harold and the Purple Crayon is Harold, 4 year old, has a…wait for it……..purple crayon. Didn’t see that coming, did you? He uses it, and his imagination, to create a fantastic new world. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I’m pretty sure I read this book when I was a wee lad, or it was at least read to me.

My son loves it when I read a story for him every night; he also loves my BlackBerry PlayBook. Marmalade brought the two together with Harold and the Purple Crayon interactive story. The application was recently the AppCircus Winner at BlackBerry DevCon Europe. The story comes to life with crisp animation, playful music and friendly narration. If they keep this up, I may be out of a reading gig.

The Review

Developer: Marmalade/Trilogy Studios Version (at time of review): 1.0.0
File Size: 53.5 MB
OS Requirements: Smartphone 1.0.7 or higher
Cost: $6.99 Website: htt​p://​www.​made​with​marm​alad​​m

Countless children and parents have shared in the adventures with the Harold and the Purple Crayon, as well as the proceeding books in the series. While attending BlackBerry DevCon 2011, the educational app Harold and the Purple Crayon was announced. Now, the application can be used by child and parent alike. It’s true, I found myself playing around with the app now and then. Animation throughout this app is fantastic- no lag, just vivid animation and quick response time. The application has three modes to choose from:

Touch Tale - is completely interactive. The story comes alive in an animated movie with music and sound effects. The reader is prompted to follow specific shapes and fill them in (grey to purple). The reader is also invited to swipe or tap around the screen to find hidden animations, text and scenes. The story text appears at the bottom in black, and appears as the narrator says the words.

Read to Me - still has animation and music, but the interactivity and sound effects are almost non- existent. Rather than the reader filling in the shapes, the reader watches it fill it before their eyes. The narrator and text are still present.

Read Alone - is the basic view; consider this more of an eBook in this state. The music is ever present, but the animation is completely gone, save for Harold blinking. You can read on your own or to your child at your own pace.

Harold main menu

No matter what mode you’re in, the Book icon at the top of the screen will take you back to the main menu or let you jump to any scene in the book. At the main menu, below the title you’ll see a “This book belongs to” field. It doesn’t serve much function, except to let you personalize the book for your child. My Son loves seeing his name each time he opens up the app. Also, in the main menu is the tutorial for the Touch Tale mode, which goes over all the actions you can take. The information screen provides links to the Trilogy Studio site. Below this is a teaser, indicating apps for Ladybug Girl and Despicable Me are coming soon. I, I mean, my son can’t wait.

Harold Touch Tale

The only thing I found buggy was the music. Sporadically, the music would start to skip, as though the CD that it was ripped from was scratched. You may have noticed it in the video. It may be minor to some, but hearing music skip gets on my nerves. Other than that, Harold and the Purple Crayon is a big hit in our household. Whenever my son starts using my PlayBook, this has become the first app he uses. It’s cute, until he switches to a 1st person shooter…

Harold Scene Select

Harold tutorial

“The narration and music is nice and understated, the animations are smooth and add to the story, and my son loved the interactivity. Worth the premium compared with the other interactive kids books out there” - unknown BlackBerry App World Review

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Marmalade/Trilogy Studios

The Good

The 3 different modes give a fresh feel to the story each time you read, watch or interact with it. Scene selects helps readers jump to their favourite chapter.

The Bad

Again, the only negative point I could see was the music. Looking at the app world reviews, I wasn’t the only one. Children shouldn’t notice this too much though.


It’s a timeless classic, with a modern take. This app does an exceptional job of capturing the spirit of the story. The interactivity make the reader feel just like Harold, minus the blue pyjamas. The animation is, again, smooth and entertaining. You could go one step further by turning the volume to zero and reading the Touch Tale version yourself.

Download Harold and the Purple Crayon for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Reader comments

Review: Harold and the Purple Crayon for the BlackBerry PlayBook


Thought PlayBook was the first tablet for business.
For Doers, not Viewers.
Rocking this.
It's for Doers, not Poo-ers.

It's possible the skin was put on recently. Some bubbles disappear after 2-3 days of drying. Otherwise, I agree, I'd redo it.

This made me think, do you all have protectors on your Playbook? I don't and the kids play on it so much and get it very dirty so I am constantly wiping it down. Do you recommend a protector and if so which one?

Excellent review, Ryan. I have looked at this several times because it is a classic. I couldn't tell in AppWorld that it was anything special and the price stopped me. However, based on the opinion of the consumer you interviewed I think this is a must-have.

At BlackBerry DevCon Europe I was a judge in the App Circus event, and I put my vote in for these guys to win. Really liked the execution on it....

Cool app for kids.. Maybe this will help kids want to read and learn more by having an interactive enjoyable experience. This is the reason I LOVE Blackberry, because they aren't just technology, but they do things with a purpose and that's the reason they will succeed beyond other platforms... Like the original slogan said, "DO WHAT YOU LOVE."

It looks fantastic but the price is a draw back.... If it goes on sale I will get it for sure....

Ryan, that was, hands-down, the best review of anything. Great job. That showed real, every day type of use, and because of that review, I'm gonna download that for my nephew go play. Awesome.

*Sadly, it says it doesn't support my device...(playbook)?

**The link is bad. I'm able to find and purchase when I look it up directly.

FYI eBooks don't teach your kids to read or help them develop into good readers, the questions you ask your child when you read with them helps them to develop as a reader. In response to an above post, RIM didn't make this app, and there are far more quality books on the big 2s appworlds. The conpletw collection of Dr. Seuss is on Android, and the books are only three bucks.

Thanks for the great review. App looks great but the price seems twice as high as it should be. At least to me. I'll have to wait for a sale.

Very cool Ryan, I like how you did this review with your son. It's the perfect way to review if the thing is good for kids ;) I know my daughter is going to love it. I'm in. And good job dude.