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Sneetches Read and Play, The
© 2017 Oceanhouse Media

CTR Review
Rating: 98%
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
You'll find plenty of original Dr. Seuss art and more importantly -- ideas about inclusively -- in this "Read and Play" version of this Dr. Seuss classic. As with other Oceanhouse titles, you can freely explore each page, tapping any illustration or word to see the printed label and hear a clear pronunciation. As a result, this is an excellent app for beginning readers of English because of the way that it lets you freely explore new vocabulary.

Be sure to explore the parent options where you can toggle on/off the Read To Me features. There's also an Auto Play feature. Other features include the ability to track minutes spent reading, and see which pages were read. Content includes 12 mini-games, including Memory Match, Jigsaw Puzzle, and Word Search and Sequence.

Need to know: there is an older version of "The Sneetches" that should not be confused with this version. The difference is that this version has hidden phonics games. Otherwise the art and touch-hear features are the same.
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Avg. Rating: % (n = 0)

3 Community Reviews
3 Community Reviews
Avg. Rating: 21.75% (n = 1)
Creative Team (x1)
Instructions, Guides, and Support Materials (x1)
Functionality & Navigation (x1)
Purpose (x0)
Diverse Audience (x0)
Audio for Diversity (x0)
Art for Diversity (x0)
Activity/Game for Diversity (x0)
Non-fiction or Informational Media for Diversity (x0)
Stories and Tales for Diversity (x0)
Content for Diversity (x0)
Reviewed using the Kidmap DIG checklist Rubric
Editor's note: "ftrial293" is actually Claudia Haines.

While The Sneetches is a story about two important topics, diversity and acceptance, I struggle with the original tale and it's execution here.

At a basic level, kids don't get to see how the sneetches, creatures different only in the presence of a star on some of their bellies, resolve the issues they have with each other after McBean runs off with their cash. After such a lengthy conflict, the quick resolution is unsatisfying. Do the sneetches magically decide to accept each other or do they resolve their differences in specific ways before they get to handholding? Kids are observant. They see and know prejudice and how deep it can go. With more detail or even support materials, in a case like this when an older, original story is being digitized, stories can often help kids navigate social situations and entertain, if done right.

While the app is technically sound, has nice text highlighting and labeling, and is easy to navigate, I rated this app low using the KIDMAP diversity and inclusion rubric for several other fundamental reasons.

-I wish I knew more about the creative team and any content advisors. I couldn't tell how diverse the team is because the Oceanhouse Media site lacks any specifics. Diverse teams often see aspects of media differently and these multiple points of view can help create content that has a broader appeal and relevance.

-The app and the developer's website offer little in the way of instructional guides or extension activities. This is a missed opportunity and something families and educators are coming to expect. Wouldn't it be helpful to offer caregivers and educators ideas on how to talk about diversity and inclusion?

-The in-app activities seem disconnected from the story, interrupt the story's flow and distract from the reading experience. The app does not support multi-touch so even if the story is being shared, the games become primarily a singular activity instead of encouraging joint media engagement. Dr. Seuss stories tend to be long, especially for young children, and I wish these activities were directly connected to the inclusive message and didn't break up the story. The games may have value, but their placement is an issue. The lack of activities that celebrate inclusion and the positive side of differences is another missed opportunity.

-I would like a voice record and/or easy to access language options to help the app appeal to a wider audience. By allowing a child (and family) to toggle between a home language and English, for example, the app could act as a bridge for English language learners.

-The app includes constant animation which I think is unnecessary. While touching certain sneetches or other characters does cause movement, most of the animation is not controlled by the child or reader unfortunately.

I hope this is the beginning of a conversation and I welcome all discussion about this review.

Oceanhouse Media [Publisher]
Rating: %
As the publisher of the app, I'd like to respond with a few thoughts. I am of the opinion that the community review written by "ftrial293" fails to take into account a number of very important points. Writing such a harsh review of an app that was crafted with love and care is problematic on many levels.

1) The Sneetches is an adaptation of a classic Dr. Seuss story that was first published in 1953. I believe it may be entirely inappropriate for modern day reviewers to be judging apps based on the underlying content of classic works. The Sneetches was written in a different time. And there is historical significance to leaving things exactly as they were written and illustrated. Oceanhouse Media has been authorized to adapt Dr. Seuss’s classic titles verbatim. So that is what we do. No surprises here for any of our customers. When reviewing a (hypothetical) app that would adapt something like Shakespeare, would reviewers mark down the app by noting the underlying writing of Shakespeare as “not modern enough?" It seems that CTR is a “technology” review and not a literary review. Much of the focus this particular review, therefore, feels wholly inappropriate.

2) I find the comment about diversity odd. Would having more knowledge about the diversity of our team result in a higher review? If so, how? How is it pertinent? I would think that any app should stand alone as a product to be reviewed regardless of who created it and how diverse their team was.

3) I find the comment about our website equally troubling. Again, if our website had more instructional guides or extensional activities would that result in a higher review? If so, why? Shouldn’t the app stand on its own? Is "supporting website data" part of the rubric by which an app should be judged?

4) And finally, with regards to missed opportunities and things that the reviewer would like to have... please remember this is a $1.99 app. It is half the price of a cup of coffee. If customers continue to have unrealistic expectations of what can be included in an app at this amazingly low price point, it will drive all of the quality developers out of business. This is a $1.99 app. And the value that the user receives for $1.99 is amazing. It does not need language options and voice record options. Adding more features would only force us to increase the price, which goes against everything that consumers want in the app space.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with this reviewer one-on-one to discuss these issues. Generally speaking, I've tended to ignore negative reviews over the years, but this one struck a nerve. The app business is a very, very tough space. Developers are trying their best to navigate the waters and build businesses that will survive long term. It seems that every month or two we learn of yet another developer that is closing their doors. I do not believe that reviews like the one below help foster industry growth and stability. If an app is well-built, high-quality, bug-free, child-focused, delightful and educational... it should be celebrated.

Michel Kripalani
President/CEO, Oceanhouse Media

Rating: %
Hi Michel,
Here are my responses to your comments. (I apologize for the anonymous initial comment. There were some technical issues and my review was posted as 'free trial" instead of as my profile.)

1) Access to high quality content matters. As a librarian and media mentor, my work is dedicated to this concept through and through. The issue is not whether the digital adaptation of The Sneetches is true to the original or not, because the OHM app obviously is. What is problematic for me, as a reviewer, librarian, and parent is whether the app, including the story, games and technical features are valuable today. Kids today don’t have the same context as Dr. Seuss and sometimes the books that adults remember fondly from their childhood don’t have the same value. In this case, I think Dr. Seuss’ story about inclusion and diversity does not hold up. (Children’s publishing has a come a long way since this title’s publication in book form.) I don’t think the games/activities integrated into the digital story experience add enough to the story’s ideas to make the story resonate with children.

2) The KIDMAP checklist includes references to diverse teams because diverse teams often ask questions that can broaden the media's audience, improve the content's quality and find issues related to usability and accessibility. Sharing profiles about a company's creative team lets families and educators read about who is behind the media. For example, is there someone with a background in early childhood education helping to design the activities and games? Is there someone with expertise in children's literature, in the case of book apps, helping select the published titles companies choose to license? Is there someone with experience in Universal Design for Learning standards? Is there someone who speaks multiple languages?
Much of the information families are getting about selecting apps and media for kids goes beyond whether the app is bug-free and focuses on "what is educational?" "what supports co-play or joint media engagement?" and "what content allows my kids to see themselves in media or understand another's different experience?"

3) While the app does have a small list of things kids can do within the app, many apps go further. Some include more extensive tips within the app related to literacy, topics addressed in the content, or technical features beyond the obvious. Other creators put this content on their website because of size or other reasons. Tips and instructional guides help families and educators extend the learning; bringing more value to the app. In a case like this one, Dr. Seuss’ original story could be used as a starting point for talking about inclusion and diversity. Even suggested resources would be helpful. Ultimately though the story and the activities don’t hold up as I mentioned above.

4) Language options and voice record options make the app accessible and valuable to today’s diverse families. Many apps include one or both because many American families speak multiple languages and/or are English language learners. Language options broaden the app’s potential audience and voice record options help support co-play & joint media engagement.

I agree that high quality media should be celebrated. I have praised many high quality apps, including Oceanhouse Media apps, by highlighting them at my library, sharing them with other librarians at trainings and through reviews at Beanstack. What the KIDMAP Checklist and this review are pointing out is that diversity, inclusion, and accessibility are important parts of the definition of high quality.

Claudia Haines