What’s a Snerbil? Glad you asked: it’s a pet that’s half snake and half gerbil. You can’t get one in the local pet shop, but you’ll find it in Nosy Crow’s new children’s app Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Pets.
Don’t worry, it’s not as horrifying as it might sound. Like the publisher’s previous Flip Flap apps, this is a digital equivalent of those ‘mix and match’ children’s books where turning parts of the page creates new pictures.
Here, it’s pets forming the pictures, with kids able to create hybrid animals like a Snerbil, a Rog (a rabbit and a dog) and a Dish (a dog and a fish). There are eleven animals, which means 121 possible combinations.
The app isn’t just about the pictures though. Each animal comes with its own eight-line poem: four lines about its top half and four lines about its bottom half. So, every hybrid pet your kids create will have its own eight-line poem too.
Children can have the poems read out to them by the app (or, indeed, by you), but if they’re starting to read themselves, the words can be highlighted one at a time to guide them through.
There are educational elements here then – not just reading, but learning about the animals – but they’re worn lightly. Flip Flap Pets is as much about laughing together at the silly combinations.
Plus, if you’re a fan of Gruffalo illustrator Scheffler’s work – my sons know him as much for the Nosy Crow apps he’s worked on, incidentally – you’ll love the animals themselves, as they’re instantly recognisable.
Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Pets costs £0.79 for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store. It’s a great app to enjoy with your pre-schooler, and it might even encourage you both to try your hand at drawing your own mixed and matched animals when the device is turned off.