Monday, July 30, 2012

Dixie by Grace Gilman and Sarah McConnell (HarperCollins Children's E-Books)

I am rubbish at winning arguments, though the household democratic decision to buy a tablet PC for e-books, browsing and other reasons was 2 to 1 against and I was the 1.

So we are now embracing the digital age here at ReadItDaddy as we now have the capacity to finally review e-books. And what a corker we picked for our first e-book review, the sublime "Dixie" by Grace Gilman and Sarah McConnell.

I've never really liked the idea of the monochrome Kindle - but with the Kindle Fire seemingly never coming to the UK, and the plethora of Android tablets not quite hitting the mark yet, we ended up buying an iPad. I've been bitten by the Apple bug at work, but have always shied away from buying any more of their kit for home after my iPod 2nd Generation ended up being more or less outdated in the short space of a couple of years after I bought it (it still works as a music player, but try running any apps on it now!)

The iPad's e-library app is lovely, a virtual bookcase provided as a free download from iTunes once you get up and running. Like the Kindle store, you can instantly grab a whole bunch of free e-books from iTunes, including this lovely little offering from HarperCollins.

Dixie the dog is a loveable character and when his best friend Emma tries out for the school play, Dixie is disappointed to find she gets so wrapped up in her preparations to play 'Dorothy' in 'The Wizard of Oz' that she doesn't have time to play doggie games. Dixie rather naughtily makes matters far worse but will   Emma make a splash in her school play in the end?

The book is lovingly presented in e-format and very easy for even the youngest children to flick through. It goes without saying that any bold, colourful children's book is going to be a better bet on a colour tablet than on anything monochrome (though Dixie is available in Kindle format). The aid of the touch screen to flick through the book and pan around the illustrations helps bring the experience alive for youngsters (that's assuming, of course, that you don't mind their sticky jam-covered fingers poking and prodding your iPad!)

With many authors and illustrators making the move to get their books published (or reprinted) electronically, embracing the rather novel experience of looking at a book this way has made us realise that the 'gimmicky' idea of a tablet for children's development isn't that gimmicky after all, and though I still have my own concerns about e-book vs printed books, Dixie is definitely worth a look - particularly as it's free at the moment.

Charlotte's best bit: Emma trying on the the Ruby slippers

Daddy's favourite bit: Slick presentation of the book, very easy to use even for little fingers.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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