My family is a big book family. We love to read any chance we get (although mom and dad do not get to read nearly as often as we would like! Mainly because we fall asleep half way through the first page of whatever book we pick up these days). One of my favorite baby gifts when we had our first child was a collection of fairytales and poems. Since then I have given board books as gifts to many friends to help build up their childrens’ libraries.
And yet, with our extensive book collection, I somehow missed the Bizzy Bear series! This is a rare occasion of an interactive story app leading me to the print edition book. My two-year-old absolutely loves the app, Bizzy Bear Builds a House by Nosy Crow. He also loves to read and is delighted by cars, trucks, llamas and any book that comes in a series. While Bizzy Bear does not have a llama, the other criteria are more than met. The board books, among them Bizzy Bear: Off We Go! look adorable.
On to the app! Bizzy Bear Builds a House is much more than an animated book; it’s a completely interactive story. It is recommended for children ages 2 – 4 along with a grownup. I think that is a perfect age group for this engaging app with lively illustrations by Benji Davies. Bizzy Bear follows the story of Bizzy Bear at a construction site learning about the different jobs necessary to build a house. Each scene offers a new job and is completely interactive: using a digger, a crane, a bulldozer, moving bricks, mixing cement and more. In addition to the story, the characters in each scene can be tapped for more dialogue. To remind the reader to tap them, the characters and equipment light up with blue dots to grab your attention.
Bizzy Bear has two modes: read and play, and read by myself. I do feel that even in read and play, where the story is read to you, the youngest users will still need guidance. They will quickly become adept at moving Bizzy Bear and his friends around, backing up the digger, dump truck, front loader etc. but may still need help with some smaller movements. Older users will benefit from the hints the characters give on each page and will be building the house with little assistance in no time at all!
Part of the fun of Bizzy Bear is learning all about large construction vehicles. The sounds used add an extra dimension with realistic noise, back up beeps and great ‘dumping’ sounds when you release their loads. There are hundreds of construction sounds included in the app and young users should be able to find something new each time! Little ones will delight in digging holes, making a pile of sand larger and larger, operating a dump truck and more. When the crew all comes together to work on the house a really fun feature is the ability to have them all working at once. However, these types of smaller movements will be harder for 2 year olds who may not have the fine motor skills to tap on each character just yet. Which is why Bizzy Bears is recommended for toddlers with a grownup. When the crew does come together, look for a flushing toilet that will have your little ones giggling away! The next page has the house almost completed; pay attention to the details on this page – even the window shades roll up to show workers on the inside.
Bizzy Bear is a wonderfully interactive app for young children. Through the use of fine and gross motor skills, children are able to completely interact with the story and enjoy maneuvering big construction vehicles. They will love the terrific illustrations and realistic constructions sounds that are never too loud or intrusive. Enjoy this story along with your little ones and watch as their face lights up when you ask if they would like to listen to Bizzy Bear Builds a House! The only thing I feel is missing is a table of contents that would allow a user to select a specific scene to jump too. I would love to see that in a future update, but the absence does not take away from the story in any way.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
Seller: Nosy Crow
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.