Engineering stories? A narratological approach to children’s book apps

Abstract (in English): 

With the rise of smartphones and tablet pcs, children’s book apps have emerged as a new type of children’s media. While some of them are based on popular children’s books such as Mo Willems’ Pigeon books or Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, others were specifically designed as apps. This paper focuses on examining book apps under the aspects of implied user strategies and narrative structure. Using a narratological framework that also takes into account the unique characteristics of the medium, a terminology for the analysis of book apps will be sketched out. Furthermore, an exemplary analysis of iOS book apps for pre- and grade school children comes to the conclusion that, far from offering the child users room for individual creativity, a large number of apps rather train their users in following prescribed paths of reading.

(Contains references to more creative works than currently registered:

Animal Snapp Farm by Axel Scheffler. Version 1.0.1. # 2012. Nosy Crow Ltd.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App by Mo Willems. Version: 1.0 Seller: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applica- tions # 2011. Disney Enterprises Inc.
Flip Flap Farm by Axel Scheffler. Version 1.0.1 # 2013. Nosy Crow Ltd.
Lil’ Red. Concept by Bart Bloemen & Brian Main, tech: Tom Skidmore, audio: Lukas Hasitschka, grafix: Brian Main Version: 1.03 # Brian Main.
Magic Story Factory by Kathy Rypp, illustrations: Gretchen Wheeler. Version: 1.0 Seller: Christian Larsen # 2011.
The Gift: An interactive storybook. Written by Jos Carlyle, illustrated by Dan Mynard. Version: 1.5. Seller: Persian Cat Press Ltd # 2012. Persian Cat Press.
The Land of Me: Story Time. Version: 0.0.4 Developer: Made in Me Ltd. # Made in Me.
The Original Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Version: 1.0 Seller: Pearson PLC # 2011 by Penguin Group (USA).
Your Adventure by Rianne van Duin (RumDeeDum). Version: 1.1 # ImproVive.)

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Jill Walker Rettberg