Our first book app review: The Very Cranky Bear (closed)

As a huge Nick Bland fan, when I saw this interview with The Very Cranky Bear, hype was building around a new app, and I just had to have it. I needed to organise myself an iPhone first. Thankfully for me, Christmas was just around the corner.

I was keen to download The Very Cranky Bear before our four hour drive to the Gippsland Lakes (our summer holiday destination). I thought it would be a great tool to keep Cam entertained without her getting car sick. She really is a terrible traveller. Unlike her mum she doesn’t use the opportunity for a cheeky nap. Cam was equally excited when she saw The Very Cranky Bear on my screen, yelling “I love you Very Cranky Bear.”

It’s no secret that I love tangible books; e-books and book apps won’t be replacing them in our home, but I do love the idea of apps taking a book or a story to another level. The Very Cranky Bear certainly delivers that request.  It is a perfect example of an app that complements a book.

It takes the characters that you’ve come to love and brings them to life. It even invites you to be a part of this funny story.


  • The Very Cranky Bear is narrated by Angus Sampson. Who in Australia doesn’t love Angus Sampson, his deep voice and cheeky undertone? Even hubby agrees that he’s the perfect narrator for this story.
  • There is a feature that allows you to record your own voice reading the story. Our narration just doesn’t compare to Angus’, but we did have a bit of fun playing with this feature. It’s great to read part of a sentence and leave the rhyming words for your child to say/read. Children will really love hearing their own voice too. My daughter certainly did.
  • Nick Bland’s beautiful illustrations and adorable characters come alive with animation and sound effects. We could make the zebra wink and the lion shake his mane over and over again.
  • Feeling like you’re in control of the pace of the story and helping the characters flee from the bear’s cave are the extra little features we love that you can’t get from reading the book alone.
  • We loved the challenge embedded in the app. The characters just want somewhere warm and dry to play their game of cards. Your task is to find five character cards hidden within their deck of cards. Once you find all five cards you are in for one special treat. I really don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but I will tell you that by finding all of the cards you are invited to jump inside the story and help the characters with a special task. It did take us a while to find the cards, but we love a challenge. It just gave us more reason to re-visit and play with the app. The beauty is that once you find all five cards, they are re-set for you next time you visit the app.
  • We did find some parts of the navigation difficult, but this is probably because we are new iPhone users. At times our intention to interact with the characters would actually result in turning a page and vice versa. This problem might actually be overcome by downloading the app onto an iPad instead.
  • Cam is only two and a half and I would honestly say that the app is a bit too difficult for her to navigate on her own. We’ve had an absolute ball exploring it together though. Needless to say she wasn’t able to use it during the car trip but it was great for toilet stops, café visits and snuggling close on the couch.

If you already have the app, I’d be keen to hear what you think.


Buy for iPhone for $4.49 (aud)

Buy for Android for $4.49 (aud)


We have one promo code to offer one reader which will enable you to download and enjoy The Very Cranky Bear app for free.

To enter:

  • These are the features we loved about The Very Cranky Bear.  What features do you look for in a children’s book apps? Leave a comment below for your chance to win the promo code.

Terms and conditions:

1. Each reader may enter only once.

2. All entries must be received by  8pm (EDT) Sunday 5 February 2012 to be eligible

3. The winner will be selected using www.random.org

4. The winner will be notified via email and will  also be announced on www.mylittlebookcase.com.au, facebook and Twitter.

Good luck!

Our first book app review: The Very Cranky Bear (closed)


  1. I look for interactive apps that I find entertaining. I think this one will fit the bill!! Thanks for a wonderful opportunity!!

  2. Everyone here in our household are massive fans of almost all Nick Bland books, especially The Very Cranky Bear. :)
    What I look for in a Children’s book app is for it to be interactive, personalised, entertaining, fun, easy to navigate for young ones, encourages learning through play, nurtures the love for reading and packed full of surprises for those adorable squeals of excitement :)

  3. Entertaining and colourful pictures that keep the little kids and big kids hehehe entertained for hours ..thank you xx

  4. I have a few things.
    1) a great story
    2) a narrator / voice that doesn’t drive me crazy.
    3) animations that don’t detract from the story.

    Would love to win the “cranky bear”

  5. A little educational and a whole lot of fun.

  6. I look for one that will read the story too them, and highlights the words as they go. I also look for one that is interactive, ie they can change parts of the story, or there are comprehension type activities to go with it., generally needs to be educational as well as entertaining

  7. My son looks for lots of things to do. The quality of the story is also important or else he loses interest.

  8. Educational, interactive and vibrant. I love the idea of recording our own voices whilst reading aloud to make it more personal. And obviously it must be fun to keep them interested!

  9. Music and sounds that aren’t intrusive… An educational aspect… Something that holds my 5 year old’s attention with or without my influence!

  10. PS. So glad this is finally available for android!

  11. Something that is cool enough for me to hear over & over again without sending me batty!

  12. I love the idea of my husband being able to ‘read’ to our girls’ even when he isn’t there. Great idea! And we love Nick Bland books too!

  13. Certainly educational and fun. Not commercial, lovely to look at.

  14. A great story with colourful and interactive pictures make a great children’s app.

  15. I am new to Book Apps, but I would hope that I could find something that would engage my three children at the same time. A story that appeals to a variety of age and ability levels and encourages sharing.

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