While the story may be 18 years old, it remains as interesting and entertaining as ever as newly reincarnated as an app.
Yes, you heard me correctly. The folks at Wanderful have taken the wonderful story of Harry and his adventures within a haunted house, and have made it a place where kids can wander and wonder about the words they see before them.
An interactive children’s book, Harry and the Haunted House is well designed and well worth the $4.99 sticker price. Every detail you see in the book has been painstakingly emulated in the app. Each page presents with animation and color that brings the old story book to life – why didn’t we have this when we were growing up!
As the explorer of the book, you are offered two ways to experience it. You can be read to, allowing you to sit back and hear the story while you enjoy the various animations that pop up around the screen. The second choice is to explore on your own. This allows you to read the story, tap on items you see on the screen, and swipe the pages back and forth. This option also allows you to listen to the narration while you tap away.
Parents should be fully aware that the app is completely safe for kids of all ages. However, if you still feel the need to put some boundaries in place so kids don’t feel too liberated, you can check out the settings under the home screen:
- Skip the title page
- Bookmark setting can be turned on/off. It allows you to resume from where you left off, is on by default but can be turned off
- Patience Mode: allows you to choose a setting that controls whether or not kids can interrupt narration – a useful feature for the smaller user community
- Page Swipe
- Highlight Hotspots: Anything with animation or interchange is surrounded by a red box. Making it easier for preschoolers to find the activities.
Currently running in English and Spanish, the app can also be set in French for a $1.99 in app purchase; and for $2.99, you can get a premium purchase. This allows teachers and home schoolers access to curriculum that is valuable, bringing an even more enhanced experience to the app.
Harry and the Haunted House comes with a 12-page overview of activities and ideas that go beyond the app experience, and will have kids asking for more. They will ask more questions about the story, more questions about Harry, and may even be inspired to create their own storyline.
The only small improvement I would suggest is adding future upgrades where the animations on each page differ with every instance you visit. Kids are smart, and may get bored watching the same animation every time they go through the story and see the same movements on the same page.
But that is easily overcome by just immersing yourself in the storyline and enjoying what’s before you. I have never seen an interactive book that is so well designed and executed. Having kids actually learn something from it is the bonus.