Apps, Websites and Video Games
"SING ALONG!" by Caspar Babypants
Due out Aug. 16, this is the latest offering from the liquid tenor tones of "Caspar Babypants" (aka Chris Ballew), who outdoes himself again with a supporting cast of musician pals like Pete Droge, Stone Gossard, Weird Al Yankovic and Outtasite. But the street cred is not why you should listen to this guy's music. CB has a genius knack for taking the best of blues, classical music (name that Beethoven tune woven into "Wild Wild Time") and even African call-and-response music, and turning it into kid music that adults will love. It's a musical education in an album, and deserving of a Grammy nomination. You can purchase through Amazon, iTunes or CD Baby, but the best price option is the $8 download from babypantsmusic.com.
"THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE"
One of the most impressive features of the iPad is how the gadget can bring books to life and make reading an interactive experience. This app ($4.99; $2.99 for the 15-minute animated short) takes the art of iPad reading to a whole new level. The story is about the love for books and the magical power of a good story. The cartoon uses miniatures and computer animation to present an absolute visual delight. The app then takes the highlights of the story and offers them up as interactive puzzles, music, games and other forms of fun. This one is a must-see.
"CRAYOLA'S COLORSTUDIO HD"
You might think Crayolas and the iPad don't mix. You'd be wrong. Griffin Technologies starts with a free app that lets youngsters color pages using their fingers. Add in the iMarker digital stylus (available at Best Buy for $30) and your child can add music, backgrounds and sound effects to their drawings. The iMarker also offers additional art tools - crayons, paintbrushes, markers, colored pencils - for your budding artist to use. As you might expect, the art created in this app can move side to side, can be animated, and allows users to zoom in and out. For the more creative among us, the Crayola's ColorStudio HD also allows for freestyle doodling.
"CUT THE ROPE"
This app ($0.99 for iPad, iPhone and iTouch) is a game of physics that's just as much fun as "Angry Birds." Om Nom is a cute little monster that wants to eat candy. The player cuts the ropes to get the candy into Om Nom's mouth. At the same time you must collect as many stars as you can for a high score. The player must use cause-and-effect smarts while selecting which ropes to cut and when. When Om Nom eats its candy, you move to the other level. If you miss, Om Nom gives you a very sad little monster face and you can try again.
"MADDEN NFL 12" ($60, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii; rated E for Everyone)
This popular sports franchise returns with updated rosters and a more realistic impact system built to make players feel the crunch of every tackle. "Madden 12" also introduces custom playbooks for dedicated armchair quarterbacks and supports one to four players on the same console or two to six players online.
"HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2" ($60, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii; rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and older)
The end has arrived. The final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort explodes in this video game based on the film. Players take up the wand to help the heroes of Hogwarts turn back dark tide of the Death Eaters. Play alone or with a friend as you struggle to destroy the dark lord.