It's rare to see and "touch" things on the iPad screen that evoke the texture, color, and unpolished feel of real life. Fortunately, a new children’s book app corrects that shortcoming, bridging the divide between slick digital storytelling and handmade visuals.
Created by former MoMA New York graphic designer and Kate Spade art director Julianna Goodman, This Monster: Creatures That Love Color has got oodles of paper collages, watercolors, and hand drawings, as well as original music and interactive monsters. The game, for ages 5 and under*, features three "chapters" accompanied by straightforward but vivid text: In the "Color Eater," fat monsters with skinny legs turn the color of any object they eat. Kids meet a Jumping Jackelope, a Musical Mermaid, and a Polka Dot Painter in Monster Pretend and, in Monster Get Dressed, create their own characters, choosing shape, color, body parts, and accessories, some of which are animated.
Goodman’s aesthetic of deliberate flaws and artful clarity distances the game from "video-game-land," as she calls it: "I see this kind of story as the digital version of the Pat the Bunny touch-and-feel board book genre." But she also folds in some fashionable touches that parents may appreciate: The monsters wear Converse high-tops, for instance, or carry a Kate Spade handbag.
"I think of the monsters as representing humans," Goodman says, "with all of their quirky balances of imperfections and endearing qualities." She set out to prove that there is room for simplicity in the children’s digital space. Monster mission accomplished.
*An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the app and the ages it's geared toward.