Posted by Allison Boyer

hullabalu app

Hullabalu is a new storytelling app available to entertain your kids in an interactive way on iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. 

A few nights ago, I was at dinner with a friend and her family, and while we waited for our meals, the kids were busy playing on the family iPad. This kind of thing is pretty common these days, so most parents I know are always on the lookout for interesting apps that combine education and entertainment.

Storytelling apps are not a new or uncommon idea, but one such app, called Hullabalu, is attempting to approach traditional storytelling in a more interactive way. Like many storytelling apps, Hullabalu has options for both reading and narration, depending on the child’s education level, but instead of just turning the pages, Hullabalu is more like a game. On every “page” (or more accurate, screen), your child has to explore to discover how to advance the story.

Hullabalu founder Suzanne Xie’s successful first company was Weardrobe, which she sold to in 2009. Although her more recent startup, Lollihop, closed in 2012, investors are on board with the Hullabalu concept. The company raised $1.8 million in funding from investment companies like SV Angel and Great Oaks Venture Capital and angels such as Posterous co-founder Garry Tan, Popsugar founder Brian Sugar, and Chris McCann, President of 1-800 Flowers.

It seems they were right to believe in this concept of book meets game. The app’s first story, Pan: The Fearless Beribolt hit the number one spot on Apple’s Books list during its first week on the App Store, and Xie says that most of the people who’ve downloaded the app play it at least once a week.

The company has plans to expand with more stories about Pan and his Hullabalu friends, as well as merchandise such as stuffed animals and stationary. However, this six-person team has a lot of work to do to stay relevant in the storytelling app world, since their major competitors include huge corporations like Disney. While most other storytelling apps are not as interactive, others are starting to develop ebooks that are more game-like as well, so this market isn’t as wide-open as it once was.

Interested in trying it out for yourself? You can check out Hullabalu with your kids on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

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Allison Boyer is the Online Education Coordinator for New Media Expo (NMX) where you can learn more about blogging, podcasting, web TV, and social business. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister.