Heidi Story Collection by Just Kids Apps
“Hello, my name is Heidi and I’m delighted you’re here to read my story. It all began in Switzerland, a very long time ago, over a hundred and thirty years ago in fact.”
The Heidi Story Collection is a well told and beautifully illustrated storybook app for the iPad that includes three stories from the Heidi series in one collection. Each of the three stories, Heidi on the Alp, Heidi in Frankfurt, and Heidi and Klara, can also be purchased individually if you prefer. In addition to the stories, the collection includes all of the extra features (“bits and bobs”) included with each of the individual apps. While there are advantages to downloading them individually (smaller file size etc.), I enjoy being able to read them one after another without leaving the app and appreciate the ability to jump around to explore the extra content offered with each of the stories. For me, the collection is a nice choice.
Upon entering the app, I am immediately reminded of the read along stories I listened to as a child. (You know the books that came with the little 45 records….) In fact, I believe I first heard the story of Heidi this way long, long ago and I really enjoyed following along with the app and remembering bits and pieces of the story from my childhood. There is pleasant music and sound effects in the background that complement and do not detract from the story. The music and sound effects can be turned off in iPad settings if you prefer, but I find them enjoyable.
Each story includes gorgeous, full color illustrations. I especially appreciate the outdoor mountain scenes. The beautiful scenery combined with the subtle background noises like birds chirping, draw the reader into the story. The Heidi Story Collection stories are very well written, with rich language and challenging vocabulary. There are two different reading level options offered. The first option for younger readers tells the story in first person from Heidi’s perspective. This is a fabulous way to draw the younger readers in to the story in a personal way. The child narrating the story from Heidi’s perspective (English version) has a lovely sounding, professional voice and charming English dialect. She does a beautiful job of reading the story in a way that flows nicely and is easily followed and understood. The version for more advanced readers is told in second person with an adult female narrator. It is also sounds pleasant and professional and is easily understood. In the version for younger children, a scrolling bar moves along the page to highlight the spoken text. While many readers appreciate this feature, it moves a bit fast for my eyes and I find it a little distracting. It is often helpful for young readers to have a placeholder to follow along more easily, but I think I would prefer having the text itself change color or highlight a whole line at a time. Or, perhaps there could be an option to turn the scrolling highlight bar off in settings the way the music does. Either way, this is a minor detail and a matter of my personal preference. (My husband has no problem with it at all.)
Heidi is well designed and easy to navigate. It is available in both English and German. I absolutely love all of the extra content provided along with the stories. My very favorite is a spot the difference game in which the child is asked to examine two illustrations and find subtle differences in the pictures. A different spot the difference picture is included with each of the three stories. It would be nice in an update if there were even more pictures in the game. (I love the spot the difference game!) The Heidi Collection also includes educational content including background information, Swiss geography, tourist attractions, native animals, jokes, fun facts and more. Each story has it’s own reading comprehension quiz as well, which is a really nice feature. Once the quiz is answered correctly, the child can receive a coloring page from the story via email as a prize. I am very impressed with the high quality supplemental content provided with the app.
Overall, I am very excited about the Heidi Story Collection. Children are introduced to this classic story in a way that is enjoyable, beautifully told and easily followed, without feeling like the language is in any way watered down. In fact, the language is often quite challenging but presented in an engaging and understandable way. Having the story told by Heidi in first person is a brilliant choice for younger readers. The additional content, quizzes and fun facts provide wonderful background information and really nice educational opportunities for children and adults to share together. The Heidi Story Collection is an excellent value and a wonderful choice for both home and in the classroom.
More information about the developer, Just Kids Apps, can be found on their website and Facebook page.
A promo code for Heidi Story Collection was provided for review purposes.