As you may know, we love story apps. We think that stories are wonderful for our minds, so we wish for our kids to enjoy many different ones. Now we realize that many of the story apps that we have reviewed on the blog are more suitable for pre-readers and novices, but today we are happy to feature one that is geared towards older readers. Introducing Harry the Huntsman, a strange tale about a shortsighted doorman — err, doorspider — and his friendship with a young boy.
The story of Harry the Huntsman begins one autumn night, when a young boy named Charlie was snuggled up in bed reading a book. An enormous spider had slipped inside his room, introduced himself as Harry the Huntsman and offered his service as a doorspider in exchange for shelter. Charlie was initially surprised that a spider could talk (and read and wear socks), but the two soon became good friends.
Over the course of over 70 pages, we follow Charlie and Harry’s strange but heartwarming friendship and the trials they face. Their adventure involves battling a gang of blood-thirsty mosquitos (aptly named the “Blood Brothers”) who yearns for Charlie’s blood.
Aimed for older readers, Harry the Huntsman consists of mostly text with small, interactive illustrations on every other page to enrich the storyline. At the end of the book, there is a virtual music box that plays an original song sung by Harry himself.
Like most digital storybooks, you swipe left and right to change pages. You can also tap anywhere on the page to bring up the page navigator. Also included in the app is an audio version of the tale to assist readers. Selecting this mode will disable interactive hotspots and tell the app to automatically turn the pages for you.
Parents Need to Know
Harry the Huntsman is a part of a series of interactive books, titled Addison’s Tales, that are designed encourage kids, included those who are learning English as second language, to read. The books all include original stories written and narrated by a fictional character named Cornelius Elmore Addison. They suit different reading skills as noted by the developers on their reading scale. Harry the Huntsman, in particular, is geared towards Decoding readers, usually between 7 to 9 years old.
Books made for Decoding readers have simple themes, funny plots, and decreased interactivity compared to books made for earlier readers. I found this to be true in Harry the Huntsman.
One thing to note is that the app contains a number of external links, including a link to purchase the song played in the music box at the end of the book and a link to the developer’s other apps.
Things I Like
Harry and the Huntsman is an enchanting, well-written tale. Although the book is quite lengthy, there was never a dull moment — I honestly didn’t want to put it down the whole time I read it. The story is intriguing, the pacing good, and the characters loveable.
On the more technical side, the app is nice to look at and easy to use. I find it lovely that the pages are styled to look like actual pages in a physical book, with realistic paper background. The tiny bits of interactivity throughout the book are nice as they keep the story lively without distracting readers from actually reading. Some hotspots are guaranteed to excite kids, such as a farting mosquito and a phrase that plays a music box tune.
The audio version of the tale is also well done — I love listening to the British-accented narration. Some features that I think would be nice to have is a built-in glossary of terms to help ESL readers learn new vocabularies, and word highlighting with the narration.
Overall, Harry the Huntsman is a great app. Despite its minimalist presentation, this quirky tale will appeal to readers, especially young boys. If you have been looking for a reading app for older kids, then I would highly recommend this one.
Get Harry and the Huntsman on the App Store.
App was provided for our honest review.