local birdsTitle: Local Birds
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free





Springtime. Flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. Birds are singing… and flying by and hanging out on the lawn. Hey, what kind of bird is that anyway? If you’ve wondered about this, Local Birds can help.

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123d sculpt iconTitle: 123D Sculpt
Platform: iOS, iPad
Cost: Free with paid upgrades




Ever want to try 3D modeling? Ever think about how much 3D modeling could be like playing with clay? ‘ I did not equate the two things until I tried this app. 123D Sculpt gives you base shapes to start with and allows you to manipulate them with various tools, add color and texture, and share them in through photos or videos.

App developer, Autodesk, offers a video demo of the app, tips, and a gallery of people’s projects on the 123D Sculpt website.‘ They also offer a lineup of other apps to experiment more with 3D modeling, some of which you can try on the site.

When you open 123D Sculpt, you can choose from a variety of base shapes to start with: a face, a human form, a dog, a cube, a car, an airplane, to name a few. Once you choose a shape, you can manipulate it using various tools. ‘ In the video demo, and in searching images created with 123D Sculpt, it looks easy to change the base shapes into detailed creations. After a bit of experimentation, the learning curve seems steeper. Practice is required to get the “clay” to behave the way you want it to. Read More →

TengamiTitle: Tengami
Platform: iOS (Coming Soon for WiiU, Windows and OSX)
Cost: 4.99



A puzzle game that looks like a Japanese Pop-Up book, yes please. Tengami is full of texture and requires patience. Your look is that of a woodcut protagonist and you begin by lamenting the loss of a dream.





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nikoTitle: Niko and the Sword of Light
Cost: Free download (first three chapters), 3.99 for full comic
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire



This fully animated comic stands on the line between comic book and cartoon. It tells the story of Niko, a young warrior, in an archetypal struggle between good and evil, portrayed in this world as light and dark. Niko has sworn to avenge his people by fighting the dark beasts and ridding the land of evil. Along journey he comes across strange creatures who help and hinder his progress. Read More →

stop motion studio Title: Stop Motion Studio
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free



Happy Holidays from all of us here at the YALSAblog! I made this little video using Stop Motion Studio:

This eleven second video is comprised of 53 still images. I used about half of the 2013 World Book Encyclopedia in a stack as well as a little plastic iPhone stand as a tripod. Stop Motion Studio has options to add sound and special effects, and it’s easy to upload your videos to YouTube or Instagram. You can download it today on the iPad you just got for Christmas, or check it out later in the new year. This app will be a hit with teens who are into video production, from the casual creative type, to the serious filmmaker.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

“You play Minecraft at work?” Sometimes my friends get jealous, so I explain: “Yeah, I play Minecraft at work, but I’m usually running around the lab helping people, and there’s more to it than just playing the game – it’s about building community.” Playing Minecraft at the library is a way to get kids in the door and create connections. That I’m a fan of Minecraft outside of work serves as another layer of common ground.

I’ve been playing Minecraft in our computer lab with groups of kids and teens for about two years now. We’ve done a lot of different things with the game: free play, adventure maps, working together to survive, player vs. player battles, redstone circuits, pixel art.  At times we’ve played every other week, sometimes once a month, sometimes once over the summer. I’ve gotten to know my Minecraft kids pretty well. I know that they are creative and knowledgeable about the details of the game.  I know who loves to explore, who is a fearless monster fighter, who can give me a porkchop when my food meter is low, and who knows how to build a shelter where no zombie will ever find us. And they know me this way as well. They know I probably have a secret shelter hidden somewhere, that if they need a place to hide they can come in, and that my avatar is probably standing there doing nothing because I left myself logged in while I got up to help someone at their computer.

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Title: QatQi
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free (with in-app purchase options)




Imagine yourself in a dark hallway. You don’t know the shape of the room, or which way you need to go. The only way to navigate is by playing Scrabble with round tiles that light the way. As you place each word, more of the space becomes visible. Welcome to QatQi.

Named for two words that use Q without U, qat an evergreen plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant and qi, life energy in Chinese philosphy, QatQi provides a puzzle for every day, ranging from easy to excruciating. ‘ You might have one small room and 11 letters, or several rooms and over a hundred letters. All the while, you try to structure your words to branch from each other in ways that will let you build into each new room, and place letters on spaces containing coins to collect extra points. Like many word games, longer words are worth more points, and being mindful of word spacing will give you opportunities to get rid of your letters by building off of words you have already played. Read More →

pvz2Title: Plants vs. Zombies 2
Cost:‘ Free, with in-app purchase options
Platform: iOS (so far)


The original Plants vs. Zombies was one of my first app reviews for this blog.’ ‘ Over the past couple of years the game has gained ‘ popularity; it has plush toys, cosplayers, and tons of accolades.’  The strength of this franchise is in its world building.’  All of the details of design, music, and comical backstory, come together to create a consistent look and feel. In the world of this game, an army of plants is obviously the best way to defend your home from zombies.’  A sequel was only a matter of time.

Time, as it turns out, is the theme of the sequel, the full title of which reads: Plants vs. Zombies 2 “It’s about time.” Crazy Dave, your neighbor and zombie fighting mentor, has found himself a time machine and gotten you lost in time and space in pursuit of the experience of eating a recently consumed taco again. You find yourself traveling through Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, and the Wild West, each decorated in typical Plants vs. Zombies style and populated by thematically appropriate zombies with thematically appropriate powers of destruction. But not to worry, you have plants: some old some new, and all with exciting power-ups.








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Title: Questimate!
Platform: iPad only, iOS 6.0 or later
Cost: Free download/ optional paid upgrades



How many flamingos are as tall as a dinosaur? How many 2×4 Lego bricks are as long as a yoga mat?’  These amusing questions are sure to pique teen interest and engage some math skills. With Questimate! you make the questions.’  Choose from such options as: “how long…” or “how tall…,” paired with animals or household objects, or test your historical estimation skills by creating questions with “in what year…” You can play solo, or challenge a friend. If you are baffled by an answer, you can tap the “Really?” button for details.










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Title: Cainsville Files
Platform: iOS
Cost: 3.99 (introductory price)



What do you get when you cross a graphic novel with a choose-your-own-adventure book and play the whole thing as video game? You get an interactive story app. Add a best-selling author, ‘ a World Fantasy and Hugo nominated artist, and a soundtrack that recalls Twin Peaks and you get Cainsville Files.

The app’s story was written by Kelley Armstrong, ‘ author of the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, as well as co-author with Melissa Marr, of middle grade series The Blackwell Pages, and several novels for adults. Armstrong also designed the gameplay, working with creative design company Inkle.‘  The story focuses on young private eye, Jenn McCoy, who is searching for her missing high-school sweetheart, a possible victim of the Valentine Killer. Her search brings her to the mysterious town of Cainsville. ‘ As a player, you navigate through the choices of Jenn’s investigation, brining her closer to answers, a possible romance, and ultimately justice. ‘ Navigate correctly, and you’ll solve the case, make a wrong move, and you might bring about the protagonist’s demise. ‘ Illustrations by Julie Dillon give the app a cohesive visual theme, while speech bubbles and text boxes make the reading experience feel like a graphic novel. Read More →