iPad Interactive Book Review: X is for X-Ray (by TouchPress) Reviewed by Guy Dayen
"X is for X-Ray", subtitled: "an a to z look inside everyday objects", is one of the most fun and innovative interactive books I have seen for the iPad. The book, conceived by Hugh Turvey and published by TouchPress (in association with the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the British Institute of Radiology; how's that for a bit of street cred?) presents over two dozen objects that can be viewed as we normally see them, or viewed in super-cool X-ray mode. This allows the reader a peek into a world that most people seldom see: the interiors of machines, plants, musical instruments and toys. The promise of X-Ray specs finally comes true! (People who read comics in the 60's will understand exactly what I mean...)
There is an image for each letter of the alphabet, so that "X is for X-Ray" can be used as the coolest primer ever. What better way to hook children just beginning to learn their letters than by showing them interactive pictures to represent each letter of the alphabet? Static picture books have long been used to introduce children to the concept and use of an alphabet - I still remember some of the one I had when I was a kid. But this is light years beyond that in terms of wow factor! Kids will come back to this again and again.
The images can be interacted with in a variety of ways. Some of the pictures can be freely rotated back and forth, some images can be viewed through a stereoscopic glasses (which can be ordered right through the app if you don't have them) or by simply crossing your eyes until the two images appear to be three-dimensional, and all of the objects can be seen in X-ray mode by swiping the image gently downwards or from right to left. Every mode works flawlessly and easily, so even the youngest children can make the magic appear by themselves. That's always a plus; no one needs frustrated kids when you're trying to teach them something new.
Every picture is accompanied by a short poem, so this book is also a great little primer reader for kids who are in elementary school, say reading at a level of 2 or 3. The poems are fun, and will appeal to boys and girls both. Children can read the poems, have the poems read to them by someone else, or they can choose to listen to a narrator reading each text. This can be done by tapping the text. Each line of the poem can also be heard individually.
I like that there is also advanced text for each image, giving more info of each of the objects pictured. This text, accessed by a little page icon button, can be read by a parent when the children are very young, or by the children themselves when they're in the more advanced elementary grades. This means that the book is appropriate for a wider range of ages, and can appeal to children from kindergarten all the way through middle school. I tested it out on each age group, and it was a hit with everyone!
The home page for the book is a lot of fun, too. It lets you access each letter by clicking on an animated icon of each object. The objects move and whirl around, and some of them will emit sounds to attract your attention. It's a great way to engage younger readers with the book.
I really enjoyed this book, and so did the children I shared it with. Everything about the book is well done, and the care and attention to detail that went into this is evident on every page. "X is for X-Ray" will make a terrific addition to your iPad's electronic library. It's beautiful to look at, and it makes reading fun, as well as being very educational. The alphabet book has come a long, long way and its clear to see this book deserves all the accolades it's been getting.