As reported earlier this week, Oceanhouse Media is releasing a bunch of Dr. Seuss iPhone apps, the newest of which, just released today, is an enhanced eBook version of the classic ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ eBookNewser took a look at the app, which is clearly of the “let’s make it more like a book than a video game” school of iPhone apps.
Oceanhouse sticks pretty close to the original book, with a few added bells and whistles. The title screen offers two choices: “Read it to me” or “Read it myself.” The voiceover has a slightly sinister male British accent that rolls its R’s, which is appropriate for Seuss’s sinister sing-song rhymes. When the Grinch himself speaks the dialogue, the voiceover gets very sinister sounding indeed. The app stays on each illustration until that words for that page are done–you advance through words and illustrations by sliding your finger to the left–and zooms out to reveal more white space where text appears. Words are highlighted red as the voiceover reads them, and in “Read it myself” mode, you can tap the words to have the voiceover start reading them. Other nice touches include a few background sound effects (a little party music as Whoville gets ready for Chrismas, for example) and a cute little page turning-sound and page-flipping graphic each time the illustration changes.
The most unusual enhancement is a vocabulary-building feature: when you tap certain parts of the illustration, the word for that thing appears, and the voiceover reads it aloud. So, in this manner, children can learn words like “cave,” “Max” (the Grinch’s dog), and “log” (see the illustration above).
Overall, it’s a pretty nice, if not wildly enhanced app. It’ll provide about 20 minutes of educational distraction for most kids, and will also reinforce “traditional” reading skills. With all the Grinch movies and other materials that have come out over the years, there’s probably some more interesting stuff Oceanhouse could have done, but as a way to take this classic book wherever your iPhone goes, this app will do the trick.