Duck in the Truck iPhone Picturebook
Developer:HarperCollins publishers / Stepworks
Release Date:March 26, 2010
Summary:Read Jez Alborough's Duck in the Truck on the iPhone, made all the better with a collaboration with the highly-regarded Kidzstory brand.
I think reading is tantamount to many good things in life, not just knowledge and literacy, and it has, for quite awhile now, unfortunately been backsliding in favor of more immediate gratifications, like computer games, tv shows, sports, simply hanging out with friends. All of these are good and well, but it always strikes me as shocking just how many people, in my life alone, rarely pick up a book to read – or never read at all. I may poke fun, maybe even vehemently criticize the latest crop of young adult fiction that heavily idolizes the rich and privileged – white and, no doubt, of aristocratic forebears – books like Gossip Girl and L.A. Candy, but it would be silly for me to admonish books that actually get adolescents to read. I could argue the merits of good literature against schlock until I’m blue in the face, but sometimes, all it really boils down to is picking up a book, any book, and taking the time to use your brain, your imagination, to create a world from words.
I grew up with a strong fascination for books, largely because my parents truly encouraged and insisted on fostering a love for reading. Well, that, and we were a disciplined bunch, with many rules and restrictions, and when such things tide over a young person’s rambunctious mind, I quickly learned the best outlet is through a book. Almost a year ago I reviewed a stellar app by the name of The Little Red Hen, one that I absolutely raved about and upheld as an example for all kids apps to follow. Back then, The Little Red Hen and its brand, Kidztory (a brand of Stepworks), where unheard of, just a diamond in the rock waiting to be discovered. Appstruck was just starting up then, so, needless to say, my adoration and rave review was largely unheard until more people discovered the app, and came to the same conclusion as me. I was surprised, actually, to find that if you type in The Little Red Hen app, our site is the second link shown. Fancy that. Since the inception of The Little Red Hen, Stepworks has been on an app-making spree with other classic tale releases like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Three Little Pigs, The Lion and the Mouse, and now, their most recent, Duck in the Truck, made in collaboration with HarperCollins Children’s Books.
The beautiful thing about this most recent collaboration is it takes the brand Kidztory and merges it with contemporary children’s literature, preserving all the original artwork from the books, themselves. I truly enjoy the digital artwork seen in the other Kidzstory conceptions, but it’s good to see modern tales upheld in their original light – and now, with the aid of the iPhone, they are given a voice and a bit of interactivity. HarperCollins truly picked a perfect brand with the now well-regarded Kidzstory brand, and after releasing Duck in the Truck, they plan on releasing more books by Jez Alborough, including Captain Duck and Fix-It Duck. Not too long ago I reviewed a storybook app called The Boy Giant by author Allan Penderleith, which I found emotional and entertaining – but, he doesn’t have quite the household name that Jez Alborough has. With Alborough’s iPhone storybook app releases, I hope more people will become aware of, and embrace, the storybook idea for the iPhone.
As a book, Duck in the Truck is, without further explanation, an excellent read for the young mind. The characters are well-sketched, with individual quirks and looks, and this book, in particular, exhibits the moral of being a good Samaritan.The artwork is vivid and lush, with an almost old world look to it – old world in the sense of having that highly detailed drawing style usually not seen in more modern children’s books, which I feel mostly favor the scant and pared down look, a minimalist world. On the iPhone, Duck in the Truck bears that same fecundity, with bright colors jumping out at you from the screen, and slow animations that let you explore the world one mindful blink at a time. It’s amazing what designers can do with static images, taking a truck and just doing a simple clip clip on the computer, and then pasting that image onto the background, so it appears that when Duck’s truck gets stuck, it bucks back and then forth. To make the story even better for the young listener, who but Harry Enfield, comedian extraordinaire, should be the in-app narrator. The app is mechanized like the other intuitive storybook apps from Kidzstory, utilizing the flipping mechanism that mimes actual page flipping, with the page animation to boot. It’s overall, just a joy to behold, a joy to read, and a joy to listen to. If I were a child, who wanted to foster his own interest in reading, Duck in the Truck, and other apps by Kidzstory, are the best ways to develop that reading autonomy, in the guise of a modern, digital toy.