A Charlie Brown Christmas

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 December, 2011, 12:00am

When I was growing up, A Charlie Brown Christmas was the holiday season television programme to mark the Advent period. It alerted us as children that Christmas was around the corner. So, when I saw that A Charlie Brown Christmas was App of the Week during Thanksgiving, I wanted it as much as I remembered wanting gifts as a child.

Instead of the usual books-to-app evolution, Loud Crow Interactive has married the static television show and pop-up books of yore with touch-screen functionality, to make the original 1965 television special come to life on the iPad. It is just like we remember the original; Vince Guaraldi's music, with the same charming soundtrack featuring music and sound effects from the original show, the original voice cast, and even Linus' one-liner: 'Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you are the Charlie Browniest!'

Adults will love to flip through this app with their kids. As Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, narrates, you can turn the pages in the book and watch the characters slide on and off the screen just like they would with old-fashioned pop-up books. When you slide your finger along dialogue panes, characters keep up their conversations. Tapping or swiping elements in the picture brings up conversation bubbles and makes objects spring to life, giving the story some interactivity for the kids.

The app features both 'Read to Me' and 'Read It Myself' modes, so learning readers will find this version of the story easy to follow. Words are highlighted as the story is narrated, and tapping on them will also allow words to be read aloud. You can play along with Schroeder on his piano for some simple musical skills. But most importantly the kids will learn, as Charlie Brown does, the true meaning of Christmas, without all the commercial trappings. Because the app also plays a little slower than most apps and e-books, my suggestion is to introduce the film version first before using this app for a great bedtime story.

Loud Crow Interactive has also included some exploration and expansion possibilities in the A Charlie Brown Christmas app. There are mini-games like the 'Spectacular Super-Colossal Neighbourhood Lights and Display Contest' that unlock rewards and hidden surprises throughout the story to discover decorations for Charlie Brown's Little Tree.

There are also six Christmas packs that can be bought as in-app purchases. These include missing scenes, mini-activities, carols and ornaments. From last Tuesday, one ornament from the 12 Days of Christmas song is being revealed each day in the app. If you find all 12 ornaments, you could win an iPad2 loaded with other Loud Crow apps.

Loud Crow Interactive has often won the App of the Week award so, unsurprisingly, the A Charlie Brown Christmas app is now a top grossing app in the US iTunes store. It has partnered with Peanuts Worldwide, so we can look forward to even more wholesome, crunchy goodness on the iPad soon.

Verdict: The animated version of Charles Schulz's original story is downright nostalgic. A worthwhile buy for both young and old. Just don't forget to share it with your kids.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is available for US$6.99 from the iTunes App Store and the Android Market