The Long Pencil in Review – Much too short

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Like PC Dr. Momo, The Long Pencil is a digital book that features both Japanese and English text. But unlike Dr. Momo, it has a complete audio narration in both languages, and for fun, a lively musical track that fits the children’s literature genre very well.

I’d rather not get into the story much at all – that would be unfair to those of you who will purchase the app. Rather, I’ll discuss why this app is useful and where it falls short. Firstly, The Long Pencil is bilingual, cute and imaginative. Both Japanese and English-speaking children can enjoy the pictures, story and sound. But beyond that, it can serve as a back-to-back listening and reading comprehension app for students of either language. For these reasons, The Long Pencil is great – its combination of pictures and simple English or Japanese should appeal to learners who need to work on simple grammar structures and vocabulary.

Moving the pictures back and forth is done smoothly with flicks and you can always go back to the app’s home screen by touching the house icon. In audio mode, you control it similarly to watching a YouTube video or an iPod movie.

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But, it seems oddly out of place on an iPhone. What I mean is that it is not a book in the traditional sense. If a student is not reading it, then certainly it is better suited for a kid than an adult. But, a kid cannot draw on its pages, dribble Cheerios on its cover or throw it around the room. A kid, having done any of the above will likely experience the same treatment from his/her parents. But, the single most telling example that this is not a book (or platform) suited for kids is the narrative itself. When in audio mode, the book goes on auto-pilot, zooming and panning in and out of pictures with a monologue pushing the story forward. Except that, this monologue is monotone. If for children, it should have more energy and emotion. Even for adults, the narrator should sound like he wants to read the story.

As far as content, ながいえんぴつ or The Long Pencil is rather short! It can be read in under 2 minutes even with one hand tied behind the back. Though having two languages at its base helps the overall length, this is the shortest story I have read on the iPhone.

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Overall, The Long Pencil is cute. The story really is nicely written and the fact that it comes in two languages is helpful. But it is really short, narrated in monotones and probably not the best platform for kids. The Long Pencil has a market, but finding it is hard. Is it the student? The parent with a child on her/his lap? Perhaps the similarly inspired artist?

Considering my reservations about market, voice, length and value, I will have to give a Slap to The Long Pencil.

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App Summary
Title:The Long Pencil (V 1.0)Developer:Studio Loupe
Price:$0.99App Size:0.5 mb
  • Cute story
  • Both English and 日本語
  • Very short
  • Offers much less content than similarly priced ‘books’
  • What is the market? Kids? Students?

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Care for more Book articles? Look below:
Cory Doctorow’s ‘Little Brother’ Option Sold to Don Murphy – Enter the QueuePhone — A Comparison of Three eBook ReadersPC Dr. Momo

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