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.
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.
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.
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…
“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 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.
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.
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