There's something about the magic of books that really sends a child's imagination soaring, whether they're reading about a talking train or a certain fat cat that has a liking for lasagna.
The iPad brings reading such a book to an all-new medium, especially with the Disney Publishing application "Toy Story Read-Along." Not only is it an extraordinary tale for everyone to enjoy, but it comes at an unbeatable price — free.
"Toy Story" tells the tale of Woody, a wind-up cowboy doll who's grown insatiably close to his owner, an energetic kid named Andy. What the boy doesn't know, however, is when he's gone, Woody and his pals come to life, chatting it up like a local community would and getting through misadventures. Their latest one brings a new addition to the group, a high-tech space toy named Buzz Lightyear, who Andy immediately takes a liking to. Woody has a hard time accepting this, and the story shows the two of them fighting for Andy's affections — which puts them in an unexpected amount of danger.
If the story sounds familiar, that's because it was the first movie that came out of Pixar, a computer-animation studio. "Toy Story Read-Along" manages to retain the same level of magic as that film, with all the delightful characters in tow (we're big fans of Mr. Potato Head) included.
Flipping through each wonderfully drawn page is a delight, and the option to have kids color their own using a touch-screen fingerpaint system is a nice touch. If you've ever wanted to give Buzz Lightyear all green armor, now's your chance. (But be sure to add a little white in there, will you? The Hulk, he's not.)
Disney did a wonderful job with "Read-Along" giving you a variety of options when it comes to competing it. You can read it as you would a normal storybook, you can have it read back to you in a kind, easygoing narration, or you can record your own narration and have your kids play it back, should you be not immediately nearby. The bar at the bottom of the screen makes it easy to pick and choose what options to use, and you can return to your spot at any time, should you need to break away to another application.
In addition to the main story, other activities will keep kids busy as well. "Toy Story Read-Along" contains a number of fun clips from the film, along with two sing-along songs ("You've Got a Friend In Me" and "Strange Things", both written by Randy Newman), and a few interactive games. They won't replace the exciting activities found in "Toy Story Mania" on the Wii, but they're fun all the same.
If you're up for continuing the "Toy Story" saga, the second film is also available as an interactive storybook, "Toy Story 2 Read-Along". Unfortunately, Disney has that program set at full price, going for $8.99. However, considering the hard work that went into these applications, it's definitely worth the investment -- and a great companion to this Digital Book.
If you've got kids or you're a kid at heart, "Toy Story Read-Along" is an essential addition to your iPad library. We only hope other Pixar movies get the Digital Book treatment, and soon.
File Size: 173 MB
Developer: Disney Interactive
iPadNewsDaily Rating (out of 4): ★★★★