Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm Come to iPad in Richard Scarry’s Busytown

Richard Scarry’s children’s books and illustrations have been loved by children and their parents for generations. Richard Scarry’s Busytown HD makes the leap from page to iPad screen with the original storybook’s keen details and vintage charm intact.

The app lets the user choose, dress, and name an animal, and then take that character on adventures drawn from the pages of Scarry’s books. The emphasis is on pragmatic learning. Toddlers might start asking, “What’s a first aid kit?” or “Why do you need a pepper grinder?” after playing a round or two.

Kids will soon learn that it’s sometimes more fun to be wrong than it is to be right in Busytown, for if you choose the wrong item, the app names it for you. In this way one could work through the entire contents of the kitchen counter – there are many intriguing gadgets – while looking for the object in question.

While a child may be looking for the grapes in the supermarket, many other vocabulary words are at his disposal from garbage can to cashier, Busytown demystifies the boisterous chaos of everyday life by instituting gentle order.


At the playground, not only can the child find out the name of the jungle gym or the slide, but all of the animals have names as well. These names are drawn from the same choices the child has at the beginning of the app, when they create a character. The names range from current (Ethan, Emma) to more whimsical suggestions (Luca, Sakura).

The app’s pacing is perfect. Its jazzy soundtrack keeps the mood from becoming too laid back, yet there are no time limits or wrong answers.

Richard Scarry’s Busytown HD is available to download in the App store for $3.99.

What I liked:  Though dressed for the 21st century, Busytown stays true to the spirit of Scarry’s storybooks. After the player finds an object in the kitchen, if he returns to the kitchen he will be asked to find a different object. The narration uses children’s voices, which added to the app’s homey, authentic feel.

What I didn’t like: I encountered an occasional glitch with the app, particularly if I tried to start a new game while I had one already in progress. Restarting the app solved this problem.

To buy or not to buy: Richard Scarry’s Busytown doesn’t seem quite as busy as it did when his book was published nearly four decades ago. This app will appeal to parents who want allow their children to use iPad apps, but worry about over-stimulation. It is not “busy” in the same way that many electronic games are, so some children who are accustomed to handling multiple information streams at once (yes, even some pre-schoolers will fit this demographic) may not enjoy the app as kids who haven’t had as much exposure to electronics.

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite

  • Eva Rosaria

    Do you ever review apps people actually care about, like games, entertainment or social networking apps? Last time I visit toddlersgadgets, off to more relevant ipad sites.