Top 15 iPad Book Apps – Most Exceptional Use of Animation

| June 4, 2012 | 4 Comments

Over a year ago, we began sharing our very favorite book apps from our growing collection of reviews in specialized “Top 10″ lists. This year, we are able to create each of these new lists with a much larger selection of apps to choose from … nearly 600 reviews are in our database (and in my head as the sole reviewer for our site), letting us create really specialized lists for each of the star categories that help us rate story apps. In the course of running our site,, I have also previewed more than 2000+ book apps for iPad, which means a lot of the content available to our readers has been considered for these special recommended reading lists.

Here you will find the fifteen apps we consider to be simply exceptional for both the quality and contextual use of animation for storytelling in an iPad book app for children. None of the apps to make our list of “Top 10 Animated Books for iPad” in 2011 have been included, so please also check out last year’s post. So, without further ado, here are our very favorite recommendations for polished, story-enhancing animation in an iPad storybook app:


1. Flip: Interactive Storybook

Screen Shot of Flip: Interactive Storybook

No book can trap an energetic character in digital ... see Emma soar!

When I first opened this book app, I thought to myself, “Move over Morris Lessmore, there’s a new girl in town.” Flip, by Grids Interactive, is just that innovative and refreshing, presenting a story that is slight in plot but heavy in spirit. Little Emma emerges in a dreary world where her narrative is not to her liking. So instead she rips a hot air balloon right from the page and flies away. Read more …


2. The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

Screen Shot of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The only app to win an Academy Award!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was a short animated film released to critical acclaim in 2010. The gorgeous film comes to life in this digital book app in a way that might even top the film’s reception. It’s just that amazing, giving the reader an immersive experience that makes other book apps with ‘Wow’ factor pale by comparison. Developers should be warned that the team at Moonbot Studios has just raised the bar. Read more …


3. Gone Wishing – Interactive Storybook

Screen Shot of Gone Wishing - Interactive Storybook

An enchanting tale where wishes come true ... the old fashioned way.

This is an exceptional new book app featuring an original story about a company, called Best Wishes, that lies below our world, taking the discarded wishing-well coins, birthday candles and other objects, to make the dreams attached to each come true. These pleas are answered in an alternate universe where mythical characters use potions and incantations to work magic – filling wishes. Read more …


4. The Lion King – Timon’s Tale

Screen Shot of The Lion King: Timon's Tale

A Disney adventure with Timon tells Simba's tale ...

Timon, the Meercat from the 1994 The Lion King film, tells this tale, following the plot of the movie closely. Interactivity includes actions required to move the story along, often tapping or wiping the screen clear to reveal the next scene. This is all done in a very engaging way that made my child eager to read the next page (and made this title one that has been requested constantly since we downloaded it). Read more …


5. The Tree I See – Interactive Storybook

Screen Shot of The Tree I See - Interactive Storybook

An interactive tale about friendship and sharing.

“Do you see the tree I see? It’s short and small, just like me,” begins this sweet rhyming tale by Aridan Books. It is told in the first person by a little boy who befriends a tree and learns a heart-warming lesson in the process. Somewhat reminiscent of The Giving Tree, this short picture book shows a tree that provides shelter and sustenance to many creatures. Read more …


6. Another Monster at the End of This Book…Starring Grover & Elmo!

Screen Shot of Another Monster at the End of This Book...Starring Grover & Elmo!

A sequel to A Monster At the End of This Book brings Elmo on board!

This is one sequel that is as fun as the original. The Monster at the End of This Book is a childhood classic, originally published in 1971. This title came out in 2000 in print, telling a similar story. This time we have not only Grover, but now Elmo too, speaking directly to the reader about ‘the monster’ at the end of this book. Elmo is excited to get to the end, but Grover is still scared. Read more …


7. Jack and the Beanstalk by Mindshapes

Screen Shot of Jack and the Beanstalk by Mindshapes

A classic with modern twists, presented in a most modern format ...

“I’m going on a fantastic adventure,” says Jack as this story starts. Full of polished animation and fun interactivity that moves the story along, this title by Mindshapes brings a fairy tale classic to digital in a way that is close to perfection. This title is fun, engaging and nicely enhanced for educational use. It features the kind of animation and cartoon-like illustrations that kids love, along with a nice retelling of the classic story … Read more …


8. Bobo Explores Light

Screen Shot of Bobo Explores Light

A wonderful exploration of science with the cutest little robot!

Bobo is a cute little robot that guides readers 6+ through a fascinating series of over 100 pages of facts, videos, physics demonstrations and interactive goodies relating to the science and history of the study of light. The app is thorough, educationally sound and deeply engaging. It is a non-fiction title with over 20 topic pages that open up three additional windows with tons of content. Read more …


9. Cinderella – Nosy Crow animated picture book

Screen Shot of Cinderella – Nosy Crow animated picture book

A Cinderella tale for the modern era ...

The much awaited second book from Nosy Crow is here and fans of their first book app, The Three Little Pigs, will not be disappointed. Cinderella captivates readers of all ages and brings even more interactivity to the classic tale of a girl, her fairy godmother & a mysterious glass slipper. You can help Cinderella tidy the house, dress the mean step-sisters for the ball, and even pick the pumpkin to be turned into a carriage. Read more …


10. Daddy Balloon

Screen Shot of Daddy Balloon

What do you do when your normal-seeming dad starts to float away ... ?

“Naomi had a useful dad, Normal-sized, and not at all bad,” begins this delightful storybook app about a little girl and her father. One day Naomi’s daddy begins to get fat, but not in any ordinary way … something quite different was happening. Her dad was becoming a balloon! Featuring beautiful animation and interactivity that is whimsical and plot-related. Read more …


11. Angelina Ballerina’s New Ballet Teacher

Screen Shot of Angelina Ballerina's New Ballet Teacher

Watch Angelina dance across the page ...

Angelina Ballerina is an adorable mouse who loves to dance, appearing for the first time in 1983 in a series of 20 books by Katherine Holabird and Helen Craig. This app is based on the TV series that began in 2009 on PBS. Each page of this well-produced app has stunning animation that is triggered by the tap of a finger, letting children bring their favorite characters to life in a way that is breathtaking within the otherwise still page. Read more …


12. Numberlys

Screen Shot of Numberlys

The alphabet has never been so dark ... or cool!

“Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers,” begins this highly polished app fromMoonbot Studios. The story is told in a theatrical way, with exceptional computer animation and interesting games built into the storyline. The look of the app is very dark, in monochromatic tones that remind one of a black & white propaganda film about a communist country during the cold war. It even feels omnious at times, with dramatic music and a narrator with what sounds like a combination of an eastern European accent and a computerized voice. This grim world is transformed by five number-named characters that have a dream … to go beyond numbers and create a world that is more expansive … a world defined by an alphabet of 26 letters. Read more …


13. Timmy Tickle

Screen Shot of Timmy Tickle

Superb animation makes Timmy come alive whenever tapped ...

Timmy Tickle is a short, but sweet digital book app for the youngest readers and listeners. A simple story about an adorable octopus is accompanied by stunning 3-D computer animation. Timmy wears roller skates, plays dress up and even does the dishes (although he does break quite a few). The story explores numbers, colors, and musical notes among other early learning topics. Read more …


14. Eleanor’s Secret

Screen Shot of Eleanor's Secret

Superb animation with an enchanting original story ...

This deligtfully animated and compelling storybook is based on the film by the same name, produced in 2009. The book follows the movie plot closely, with fully animated scenes on every page. Little Nathanial and his family come to Eleanor’s home after she has died to find her estate left in disrepair. Eleanor has gifted her library of books to little Nathanial, but until he can learn to read, the true magic of this gift is lost. Read more …


15. Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!

Screen Shot of Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!

Mo Willems' Pigeon is an instant digital classic ...

The ever-popular Mo Willems’ Pigeon is back and he wants to take over your iPad (or iPhone/iPod)! Based on the series of print books published since 2003, this app is sure to become a favorite in any house with children under 6. It features customizable story sequences that will enchant fans of Willems’ work instantly. He had me at ‘hello’, literally (or ‘hi’ to be completely accurate). Read more …


We hope you enjoyed this list! Did we miss anything you think we should have included? What are your favorite animated book apps for the iPad? And don’t forget to check out last year’s list – Top 10 Animated Books for iPad!

Category: All About Apps, Top 10 Lists

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.

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  1. Cameron Gaffney says:

    I look forward to enjoying these apps when Apple gets its act together and stops making massive profits through gross mistreatment of its factory workers.

  2. miguel ruiz says:

    I recomend this great quality interactive book, maybe could to be in a future list

  3. Stas Ustimenko says:

    My children love Fairy Tales for Clever Kids

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