You might be thinking, geez, what took him so long? when you first get wind of Mo Willem’s delightful new interactive ebook, Don’t
Let the Pigeon Run this App. But after hearing him preempt that very question at a recent press lunch, I totally understand what took him so long: The pursuit of quality. Entertainment value. Creative potential. Humor. An app that requires your own engagement for it to “do” anything.
Essentially, all the stuff worth waiting three years for.
If you’re not familiar with Willems’ Pigeon series of books, you’re
either a brand new mom or you’re a recent immigrant from Moldavia. Count
my kids among the Pigeon obsessed (a population that’s twice as dense
in Brooklyn), thanks in part to the interactive nature of the stories.
As he describes it, “I don’t write books for kids, I write for people
who haven’t yet learned how to be embarrassed.”
The pigeon app is no different. Here, the essence of the books come to
life beautifully and dynamically with a pigeon drawing tutorial (introduced with a video
from Mo himself), and three different hilarious book-creation options for varying
story, multiple choice style–you just might find a Piggy and Elephant cameo in there. Slightly older kids ( my 4 and 6 year-olds are perfect) will love “Big Pigeon,” a voice-activated interactive storybook that they help create, Mad Lib style.
There’s nothing like seeing your kid’s face as her
fart and underwear jokes become validated as a part of the pigeon’s story.
Mo’s goal with this app was to give kids the tools and motivation to
own authors and illustrators, which is just the kind of children’s app
that iPads were made for. Even the homescreen credits read:
By Mo Willems and You.
Technically, there are couple of teeny first gen annoyances–like to go
home, you have to click the birdhouse, followed by a second click on the
talk bubble that emerges and says “go home.” The second click is
counterintuitive for kids these days who are being raised on apps. You
also need to make sure to tap the big red button before you answer an audio prompt and
not after; that’s not entirely clear.
But overall, this app is a winner. My kids have not stopped playing with it for three straight days, if that’s any indication.
I love that you really feel the
author’s fingerprints all over it–Disney Interactive Publishing calls
it their first author-driven e-book, and it’s such a nice change from
all those licensed books with dubious educational value. Willems wrote
script himself and stayed incredibly involved with the production and
execution right down to the Pigeon’s voice, which is his own.
In fact this app is so personal to the author, that he joked to me, “if
you hate this app then you hate me.” Not possible. -Liz
Let the Pigeon Run this App is available from the iTunes store for
iPad and iPhone for $6.99. Sorry, no Android yet. Learn more about Mo Willems and all his characters at PigeonPresents.com