eBook review: Freight Train

Freight Train
Harper Collins Publishers
Available from iTunes store
$0.99
available for iPhone or iPad, but optimized for iPhone

I was so excited when I saw this story about the making of the Freight Train eBook on the Horn Book website. My three-year-old son loves the Donald Crews book, and I thought an interactive eBook version would make a great addition to our eLibrary.

My son loves it, and so do I…mostly. The book is a very good fit for an eBook adaptation. The songs that were chosen as the soundtrack are appealing recordings of great, classic railroad songs. The read-aloud voice is appropriate to the book, and the interactive elements  enhance the experience, rather than detracting from it (e.g. the child moves each car to add it to the train, and it connects with a satisfying clang).

A couple of minor complaints: the default read-aloud setting plays the music and the narration at the same time, and so parts of the book are read at the same time that lyrics are sung. It’s distracting. Also, some of the illustrations that were added to make the app interactive seem like they were imported from another book. I love the clean visual style of the original illustrations, so the change in style for the added elements was jarring. My son doesn’t seem to care, but it grates on me a bit. And finally, the book is optimized for iPhone, so if you expand it on the iPad the resolution is a little fuzzy.

Overall, though, it’s an engaging and fun adaptation of the print book, and has become one of my son’s favorites.

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Posted on May 10, 2012, in Apple, eBook. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One thing occurred to me that could have been done better: instead of the arrows at the bottom I would have liked it work with a finger swipe. Why have an arrow on an iPhone?

    • You’re right; they apparently made the choice to use the swipe gesture for the interactive elements and arrows for moving through the story. It would have been a more familiar experience if they had used swipe to move through and taps for the interactive parts.

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