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App Review: The Monster at the End of this Book

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A Sesame Street Classic Gets Re-Imagined App Style
App Review: The Monster at the End of this Book

Grover tries his best to dissuade you from turning the pages of "The Monster at the End of This Book."

Back when I was young and, you know, still cute, I had the good fortune of having family members who indulged my fascination, nay, obsession with reading. From encyclopedias to storybooks, my grandparents, uncles and aunts would send me book after book, which I consumed like a voracious little caterpillar. One of the titles I remember reading over and over and over was a Sesame Street Little Golden Book called, The Monster at the End of This Book. I just absolutely adored that book, which chronicled the tribulations of an apprehensive Grover as he tried to prevent readers from turning the page so he wouldn’t meet the titular monster at the end of the book. Naturally, his hijinks made me want to turn the page even more — a stellar example of how to add interactivity to an old medium and involve the reader with the story.

Looking back at the book now, it almost felt like The Monster at the End of This Book was a tablet in paper form. It always made me curious as to how the title would translate to the modern-day tablet. I mean, if there was a book that would be perfect for the touchscreen devices of today, I always thought it would be that one. Having now tried the app version for the iPod, iPhone and iPad, I could confidently say that my assumption was spot on. The ability to interact with Grover and the various items on the pages gives the digital version of The Monster at the End of This Book another layer of interactivity that builds on the already stellar premise of the paper-based original. In the sequence where Grover ties up the page with rope, for example, you can untie the rope by touching the knots. I discovered, however, that you can also make Grover let go of the rope by tickling him, something I’m sure will go over well with mischievous little ones.

Adding to the delightful humor are little touches like Grover accidentally getting some cement on his helmet or constructing himself a little peep hole while building his totally destructible “indestructible” brick wall. Grover’s expressions, which range from sheer overconfidence to utter dejection, are also a hoot, adding that Sesame Street personality to the tale. His comments are quite Grover-like and amusing as well. The one where he talks about your monstrous strength after you decimate his brick wall made me laugh just as hard today as it did when I was a kid. Speaking of which, the writing — which was already stellar before — still translates well even today and should continue to delight a new generation.

As far as cons about the app, there really aren’t many. It seems there were some issues about bugs when it was first released but I didn’t run into any of them so I assume that they have been patched. The file size is also a bit big and I wish you could also swipe to turn the pages instead of just tapping on the lower corners. Really, though, that’s just nitpicking at this point.

If you’re a parent who remembers reading the original book as a kid, you’re going to love experiencing the story all over again with your child. Even if you’re a parent who never read the original as a kid, I’d still recommend it as this is easily one of the best storybook apps I’ve seen. I actually think it’s even better than the sequel, Another Monster at the End of This Book, which I consider to be excellent as well. In fact, my biggest complaint is the fact that the book had to end.

DETAILS
  • Final rating: 5 stars out of 5
  • Cost: $3.99
  • Compatible with: iPhone 3GS, iPod and iPad with iOS 4.0 and above

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