Letters for Santa is a well-polished Christmas story and a letter writing tool for children. In this app, kids are transported right into the magic, thanks to a story that incorporates their name and age into the tale, and has plenty of interactive scenes.
This story focuses on Ruben, Rudolph’s nephew, who dreams of having a nose as shiny as his uncle’s one day. Flight school is important for young reindeer, but one day Ruben is missing from class. As it happens, he fell asleep after staying up all night to create an invention that turns out to be the iPad app itself, which children can use to write their own letters to Santa.
When the app opens, parents are prompted to enter their child’s name, age, sex, and a parental email address. Of course, if you don’t want to give out this information, you can skip this step, as I opted to. I’m not sure why it asks for an email address at this point, since it requires another email address to be entered when a letter is sent. Children may wonder why they need mom’s email address to send their letters to Santa, so in that respect, I think this app could use some retooling.
Letters for Santa incorporates both landscape and portrait viewing modes, which is a fun addition. The story is told in landscape mode, but by flipping each page to portrait mode, there are extra details to find. On some pages children can also swipe downwards for even more story illustrations. In these extra scenes, tapping on characters will often initiate an animation or a sound, such as Santa’s chuckling
Narration is clear and concise, and the app can be paused at any point. Navigation is done with menu options at the top and arrow buttons on the sides of the screen. Swiping works as well, but each page needs a tap before it will begin to play. Dialogue can be turned off and on by tapping the quote button, so that the adorable visuals can be viewed unhindered. Tapping the microphone will replay the narration of a page again. There are plenty of options for navigation, which is always a nice touch.
The letter writing section presents children with virtual stationary, which they can use to write down their Christmas wishes. The app uses touch input, which can be difficult even for adults. What your child writes may end up being slightly illegible, so I’d recommend asking them to narrate aloud if you’re interested in what presents they may want. After the letter is written, it is sent off to Santa, and that’s the end of the tale.
Though the story is slightly lacking and is more of a tool to present the letter writing portion, Letters for Santa is a sweet interactive app that is perfect to use while relaxing around the christmas tree with a cup of cocoa.
What I liked: Different detailed scenes when swiping down and rotating the iPad were enjoyable. The graphics were also impressive, and I found the characters to be charming.
What I didn’t like: I wanted more substance to the story, which was light on the content. It was just a few pages with a half-hearted tale used to introduce the letter writing. It wasn’t engaging or interesting enough, compared to other interactive children’s books that I’ve used and read. Additionally, the writing portion was laggy, slow, and tedious to use with a finger. My name did not show up in the end of the app like it was supposed to, so this feature is not currently working as intended, negating a lot of the personalized appeal of the app.
To buy or not to buy: Buy this as a way to send a letter to Santa (and find out your children’s Christmas desires), not as a book to read, otherwise, you will be disappointed.
- App Name: Letters for Santa
- Version Reviewed: 1.0
- Category: Books
- Developer: drawingic Limited
- Price: $1.99