Pre-readers Will Love Miffy’s Garden for iPad — iPad App Review

Miffy, Dick Bruna’s insouciant white bunny may be turning 57 years old this year, but she doesn’t look a day over 5 in her first iPad app. Miffy’s Garden for iPad by the Dutch developer Sanoma Media is an interactive edu-book drawn from a print book of the same name. Miffy’s arrival to iOS will charm children, particularly the under 5 set. Bruna’s use of stark primary colors to create Miffy gives her an appeal that contrasts to the multi-sensorial assault many children experience when watching TV or using an iPad.

When using the app, the reader may choose from three sections. In the first Miffy plants a garden with the help of father bunny and, more importantly, from the reader, who can interact with the story through touch gestures. Next, the reader becomes the narrator by recording her own rendition of the story. Finally, the reader can choose from three simple games to play.

Like her creator, Miffy hails from the Netherlands. Miffy’s Garden runs in either Dutch or English.

While the story is rather short, it is likely that most kids will want to re-read it. The ability to record ones own version of the story will excite children since Mom, Dad, or up to any three people can read them the story. Unlike many book apps, Miffy’s games do not feel like an afterthought. Users who try making a digital garden also have the choice to email a screen shot of their creations.

Miffy may lack the commercial penetration of Hello Kitty in the US, and Maisie‘s gender neutral, can-do spirt, but she offers her readers a gentle and unambiguous look at family life. At one point in the story Miffy admires her plants and thinks: “While they are very small, they are growing up so well.” Reading Miffy may help kids see their own implicit value as well.

Download Miffy’s Garden for iPad from the App Store for $4.99.

What I liked: Miffy’s Garden is constructed with great care, so it does not frustrate or overwhelm its reader, yet it still allows the reader a bit of freedom to play around when planting seeds or picking carrots. The narration is very professional.

What I didn’t like: The soundtrack grew tiresome quickly, so parents might want to allow children to use the app with headphones on.

To buy or not to buy: Miffy’s Garden shows children how to use technology, as well as subtly teaching task commitment. Unlike the purile version of Miffy (too frequently lost or clueless) depicted in Miffy and Friends, Miffy’s Garden shows her to be clear, gentle, and competent.

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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