Juliette And The Shiny Red Balloon

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A couple of months ago, I received a lovely email from the folks over at Long Weekend asking me if I would like to try out a new story book app they were developing called, “Juliette and the Shiny Red Balloon.”  It’s a bedtime story app that you can read or be read to in English or Japanese. I said yes, and downloaded it on my iPad, with the intention of taking a closer look at it once I had a moment to focus on it.

A few days later, Vivienne asked me if she could play “The Cat Game” on the iPad (it’s actually called Toca Kitchen, and it’s a great app by the ever fabulous Toca Boca.) I said, “Sure – I will join you in a minute,” and then went to make myself a cup of coffee.  When I came back, she was absolutely entranced – but instead of the sounds of cooking – I heard the lilting, bubbly sound of a woman speaking Japanese. Vivienne had found “Juliette” and had already navigated the menus to have it read to her in Japanese.

And ever since then, she keeps going back to it and asking to read it with me! That’s a selling point – when my child returns to an app again and again… I was going to say, “like a book,” but this *is* a storybook, so, well, it’s EXACTLY like that. The review copy I received was for the iPad only – and one day, Vivi was looking at my iPhone and said, “Mommy, where’s the red balloon one?” UM, SOLD.

The story is adorable and simple – Juliette receives a red balloon as a present from her father, and proceeds to have all kinds of wonderful adventures with it. Each page is brightly colored and sweet, Juliette is spunky, and there are little interactive things to do as the story rolls along.

You can choose to read it, or have it read to you in English or Japanese. In both instances, the voiceover is well done – very pleasant – especially the Japanese version. That’s important to me – there is nothing worse than crappy voiceover. I’m looking at you, most Fisher Price toys. All in all, it’s a delightful little bedtime story for toddlers.

And even better – 90% of the proceeds from the sale of the app go to The Tyler Foundation.  The foundation was started in Tokyo by Mark Ferris and Kim Forsythe-Ferris, whose son Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia before he was 1 month old. Their goal is to improve the quality of life for kids during cancer treatment, and ensure a smooth transition to normal life.

A sweet story, a darling app, and a good cause. This is a keeper. It’s available as of today in the iTunes store.



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