Title: Doodle Jump Deluxe

Platform: Nook Color, Android (iOS 1.5 or later), iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (iOS 3.0 or later), Blackberry (iOS 4.20 or later), Windows Phone 7

Cost: $2.99 (Nook Color, Windows Phone 7), $0.99 (Android, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Blackberry)

Doodle Jump DeluxeApp developer Lima Sky warns gamers that Doodle Jump Deluxe “is insanely addictive.” As just one of over ten million downloaders, I quickly became hooked. The concept is simple: bounce the Doodler up and earn points.’  Tilting the tablet or smart phone left or right helps the user propel the Doodler toward springy platforms to avoid “themed baddies.” Check out the official trailer to see the game in action.

Doodle Jump’s teen appeal exists on multiple levels. Doodle-like illustrations on graph paper add charm, and the different themes (e.g. space, jungle, winter, etc.) and levels keeps the app fresh even after hours of play.’  The ability to compete against up to seven other players also adds a social component.

Unfortunately, the multi-player option is only available “locally” on most platforms. To compete with other gamers, the challengers must pass the tablet or smart phone back and forth. The option to race competitors through simultaneous play is available via Game Center for Apple devices.

Despite the limited multi-player functionality, libraries could easily host Doodle Jump competitions or tournaments. The fact that Doodle Jump will soon be available for Xbox Kinect makes this fun game even more accessible for libraries. Doodle Jump projected on a screen will undoubtedly increase friendly competition and work well with existing teen programs and game days.

Title: Drawing Pad
Nook Color, Honeycomb Tablets, iPad (iOS 3.2 or later)

Barnes and NoblDrawing Pade recently introduced a collection of apps for Nook Color, and I enthusiastically downloaded a few to test out the features. Drawing Pad by Darren Murtha Design is one of the most downloaded and reviewed apps for Nook Color.’  It is also available for a variety of other touch screen devices including iPad and Android tablets.

Drawing Pad’s collection of tools includes paintbrushes, color pencils, crayons, markers, stamps, background papers, stickers, and erasers.’  I had fun testing out each instrument to create the image below.’  The tools are easy to use and respond well to Nook’s touch screen.’  There is a variety of colors available, and the different stroke types and’  pre-made stickers makes this app a lot more fun than other simple graphic painting programs (e.g. MS Paint). It also allows you to save images to an art gallery or share via email, Facebook or other apps.

A few minor improvements could have made this application a lot more user-friendly.’  The “pencil box” covers up a fraction of the art board. I did not realize part of my picture was blank until I went to save it. Fortunately, the tools can be slid shut by clicking the box’s handle. One of the major problems reported by reviewers on bn.com is that the program occasionally freezes when saving graphics. I did not experience this issue, but I did have trouble figuring out how to send images via email. When you click to share, Drawing Pad presents a list of apps that accept pictures. Rather than automatically attaching the image, you have to go into your Nook Gallery and select the image.’  A YouTube video displaying the iPad version suggests that the process might be easier on Apple devices (i.e. there is actually a Facebook button on the latest version).

Why should you care about Drawing Pad? Besides being a lot of fun and supporting creative expression, this app has a lot of potential for programs. For example, you could invite teens to draw up alternative book covers to share on the library’s Facebook page.’  You could also prompt teens to create images for characters as part of a summer book club exercise.’  You might also test out the app just because some of the young adults at your library likely use it. A testament to its quality and popularity, Apple named Drawing Pad the “iPad App of the Week” in December 2010.

April was National Autism Awareness Month, but now that we are well in to May it is important to not forget how autism affects our communities and the teens we work with. Autism is a term used to describe a spectrum of brain development disorders, including PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. One in 110 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, making it one of the most prevalent childhood disorders. Based on the statistics, the chances are that at least one of the teens you interact with is affected by autism. ‘ What can we do as librarians to serve young adults with autism?

The most important thing to remember is that autism is a spectrum disorder, and no two young adults with autism will have identical needs.’  Like many librarian-patron interactions, it is sometimes most useful to ask the person or his or her caretaker, “Is there something I can help you with?” For some great ideas about how you can offer better services for patrons with autism, check out Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. The organization has produced a series of customer service training videos that are worth watching if you are interested in learning more about libraries and how we can assist this underserved population.