Toby Snax by Kristin Hersh ($1.99) by Ethical Paul marks the first foray of renaissance woman Kristin Hersh into app development for children. Hersh spent the last three decades building a fan base through her work with Throwing Muses (an alternative rock band), her solo recordings, and 5OFOOTWAVE.
In 2010 she released Rat Girl, a coming of age memoir about her time in Throwing Muses. She is also the mother of four boys, and she frequently shares moments in her (often chaotic) family life on Twitter.
Because she offered her latest solo recording, Crooked, as a CD, digital release, a physical book, and an app, it isn't a stretch for Hersh to write a children's book, or to choose to release the book for iPad.
Toby Snax is a bunny. Much like Hersh's sons, he has a Mama who travels. Mama would like Toby to join her on his adventures. Toby is reluctant. He thinks he would rather eat his banana.
Toby's Mama gently encourages him to be willing to try new things. Spoiler alert: it ends happily!
Hersh wrote and illustrated the story. She reads the story. You can even hear her turning the pages within the app.
Users can choose to read each page aloud, or push a "read to me button." Younger children might enjoy getting to push the button on every page.
An offering from Hersh would not be complete without music. Toby Snax comes with five lullabies that Hersh learned as a little girl in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.
To play the song, just push the button on the last page. The button animates while the song plays. The music is a great bonus for fans, who basically get a free five song EP with the app. The music also gives newcomers a chance to hear Hersh's unique voice.
Bananas and butterflies crop up in Toby Snax. These symbols reminded me of Bananas, Blondes, and Butterflies, a blog entry Hersh wrote in 2006 about the predicted extinction of those three things. Read Hersh's post for a glimpse into her life with her children, and possibly some background for Toby Snax.
The legions of fans who followed Throwing Muses through dive bars and seedy clubs are now grown up, and many of us have young families. It is a pleasure to introduce her music to our children along with Toby Snax, the reluctant and adorable bunny.
While there are definitely slicker children's apps on the market, few are as charming as Toby Snax. This simple and timeless story is one children will ask for again and again.