Ruth Green’s Noisy Neighbours finds its way onto iPad and iPhone courtesy of the Tate Gallery and developers Aimer Media. It is brilliant, bright, fun and creative. It follows the tail of a snail (Sid) desperately trying to find a place to sleep. A task that turns out to more difficult then it might seem, as that elusive peaceful spot is ruined time and time again by all the various creature noisy neighbours.
Firstly it’s a digital version of the original book and can be read that way following Sid on his adventures by simply pressing the Play button. Various simple but effective interactions on each page will launch a variety of ‘chirping sparrows, singing foxes, buzzing bees, quacking ducks, playful squirrels and hooting owns’ (we will get to the ‘owns’ bit later, not owls as I initially thought). It is well read, the narrator really bringing out the warmth of the story, with the delivery of soundtrack alongside animations beautifully timed. The music track used throughout, by the way, is old-school. smile-inducing fabulous – this part of the app has been very well crafted and it’s all the better for it.
In its digital book form it is a recommended and fun read, but this is also an app running on some very powerful devices and it is at this point that we get to take advantage of said digital platforms. Noisy Neighbours jumps right in there with the ability to not only draw your own animals to add to the pages scene-by-scene but also – and this is the really fun bit and something kids love – you get to record the noises and voices these creations might make, it is these that the publisher calls ‘owns’.
The drawing part takes place in a well-designed drawing tool with the colours chosen to carefully match the pallet used in the book. Simple to use and easily understandable options mean kids (and adults) can get right into drawing creatures and creations. Tapping the done button leads you onto a one-touch sound record option and then you’re done, one hand drawn self-voiced creature ready to add to the book. This is done by selecting the ‘Add’ option bottom right, little hands may have problems at first with the tap and hold in order to engage the ‘own’ and collection of stickers, but once mastered it was great fun and now my version of the book is peppered with wonderful doodles and even more wonderful sounds.
This app captures the magic of the real world book, it’s great fun, entertaining, and skilfully put together with only a few niggly things (lack of audio engagement on the title screen for example), and best of all, it is at its best when everyone joins in, which has to be fully encouraged!
Ben Simpson is CEO & Founder of Box of Frogs Media