Ladybird ‘Me Books’ App

Review by Miranda West, Children's editor, The Literary Platform

iPhone app iPad app iPod Touch app
Features: Personal narration, sound effects…
Production credits: Made in Me
Launch date: 9th August 2011

You remember those Ladybird books you read as a child: The Gingerbread Man, The Little Red Hen, Cinderella? Quite possibly the best size and format children’s books ever published? Well, forget rummaging through dusty boxes in your parent’s garage to try and find them. You can now install the Me Books App onto your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch and download the original editions! (yes, we are excited by this).

Not only that. Once downloaded there are a few nifty features to make the experience live up to the expectations of any digitally-indulged child. You – or your child – can personally narrate the books by overriding the original narrator with your own recording (not that you’d want to in the case of Adam Buxton or Josie Lawrence), tap the images for sound effects such as the chattering monkeys in The Zoo – this title comes pre-loaded when you buy the app, or record your own sound effects.

Once you have safely installed the Me app, you can then build your own library of Ladybird classics by making in-app purchases directly through the ‘shop’. A welcome alternative to wheeling your trolley back into the madness of the app store.

We downloaded an extra book, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and were pleasantly surprised to discover that narrator Adam Buxton had given the characters a bit of extra dialogue, revealed when you tap the illustrations. Very funny indeed.

The entire initiative comes from Penguin Children’s Books – working with Made in Me, a multimedia children’s publishing company based in London – who were obviously wondering what, if any, digital treatment to give these classics. What we like most (other than Buxton’s quips) is that the original text, illustrations, and even imprint page showing the year and place of first publication, remain untouched.

This acknowledges one of the golden rules of publishing: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. By retaining those features that made these books classics in the first place, then making the series available to a new generation of digital readers, the publisher has created a near perfect blend of nostalgia and innovation.

Miranda West is Children’s Editor for The Literary PLatform

Price: 69p for app + The Zoo, then additional titles £1.99
Ladybird Classic Me Books