The Anti-Coloring Book App

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
The Anti-Coloring Book App App Poster Image
Creative inspiration with so-so tools, pressure to buy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can exercise their creativity with challenges that get them thinking and designing. They can also think about colors as they mix colors with white or black to make them lighter/darker. 

Ease of Play

The play experience is simple; kids will have no trouble diving in. Navigation is glitchy, though, especially when trying to return to the main menu. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Each coloring page has a "read" option, which links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There's a YouTube link, but it didn't work in the samples. There's also a link to search Google for your local library. There are in-app purchases for each new set of coloring pages and there are no parent gates.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Anti-Coloring Book App is a creative experience that includes coloring pages from the popular print series of the same name. The pages are, in fact, scans from the book, so families who already own the series will find them to be familiar. Each coloring page includes links to buy a related book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and to watch a reading of the book on YouTube. The YouTube links didn't work in the pages we sampled, and one of the buttons to return to the home page didn't seem to work as intended. The basic app comes with three coloring pages, and additional pages are available for purchase in the app ($0.99/pack), but there's no parent gate. Note: There was no privacy policy available at the time of review. 

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What's it about?

THE ANTI-COLORING BOOK APP is a repackaging of a series of coloring books by the same name that launched in 1978. The author, Susan Striker, believes that standard coloring books actually diminish creativity by limiting kids' ideas about what things can and should look like. Instead, her books provide a background and a prompt, allowing kids to imagine their own animals, castles, and other objects. In the app, kids choose a coloring page, read the prompt (or have it read aloud), and fill in the blank space with their imaginations and the available coloring tools (pencil, marker, felt tip pen, crayon, chalk, paint brush, fountain pen, eraser). They have access to 10 paint colors, as well as the ability to blend each of them with either white or black to create a lighter or darker shade. There are external links to buy related books, visit your local library, and watch the book being read on YouTube (although none of the YouTube links worked during the review). Kids have complete control over the page, including (for better or worse) the ability to erase the original artwork from the coloring page. Kids can save pages to a gallery or print them out. The basic app comes with three coloring pages. Additional packs of pages can be purchased for $0.99 each, and there are no parent gates built in to the app.

Is it any good?

For kids who love to draw, these prompted coloring pages provide some solid creative inspiration, but the app has some glitches and oversights. Sure, the artwork feels a bit dated and the prompts occasionally feel too narrow, but there's still plenty to love about the content. And if kids find a prompt they especially enjoy, they can draw several versions as opposed to the one they could do in the print version. If there's a complaint here, it's that the drawing tools feel rudimentary. The color palette is limited to 10 base colors, plus the lighter/darker versions, rather than taking advantage of the full range of colors the display can handle. The tools have no size controls, and several of them draw in shapes rather than the smoother lines you'd expect. The author deliberately left out a paint bucket, presumably to avoid "lazy" coloring, but the truth is that those buckets make digital drawing easier and more fun. Scribbling in every last pixel is an exercise in frustration rather than creativity. While the pairing of a book with each coloring page is a clever idea, linking out of The Anti-Coloring Book App to shopping sites, YouTube, etc., is unnecessary and inappropriate for most kids. This creative endeavor will appeal most to kids who prefer drawing to coloring, and who have the talent to create something with simple tools (or the carefree attitude to not care about the results). Thankfully, the base app is free, so you can give it a test run and see what your kid thinks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about creativity. How are the coloring pages in The Anti-Coloring Book App different from those in other kinds of coloring books? Which type of coloring experience do you prefer?

  • How do you like this app as compared with other apps you could play? If you had or have limited screen time, would you pick this app over other apps on your device? Why, or why not?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Arts: drawing
  • Skills: Creativity: imagination, making new creations
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (Three coloring pages included in free version; additional packs are $0.99 each)
  • Release date: August 21, 2017
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Topics: Space and Aliens, Wild Animals
  • Size: 344.00 MB
  • Publisher: Susan Striker
  • Version: 2.3.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love art and creativity

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