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Make your kid the star of an iPad e-book

With JibJab Jr. Books, you can plaster your kid's face on the virtual pages of an iPad storybook. But the lack of sound and music lessens the experience.

Imagine this with an animated rolling pin that seems to jump right off the page--er, screen.
Imagine this with an animated rolling pin that seems to jump right off the page--er, screen. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Every single children's book for the iPad, from "Alice in Wonderland" to "Yertle the Turtle," has one thing in common: it's not about your kid.

JibJab Jr. Books changes all that, putting your child's face and name front and center in a personalized, animated iPad storybook. It's really cool--but also oddly flawed.

You've heard of JibJab, right? The service was originally known for its satiric videos (most notably "This Land," one of my all-time favorites), and later for its Starring You vids--which insert your mug into various animated clips.

That's the tech that drives JibJab Jr. Books, which comes with one free book: "The Biggest Pizza Ever." To get started, you create a boy or girl character using a photo in your library or Facebook account. (iPad 2 users can also snap a photo on the fly.) Then, with a little zooming and rotating, you position the face just so, and you're done.

The books are supercute, with kid-friendly images and lots of great animation. In one "Biggest Pizza Ever" page, for example, your little chef pushes a rolling pin across a pile of dough--right at you, using a nifty faux-3D effect. And in "Ocean Commotion," your child stars as a deep-sea diver, literally swimming with the fishes.

Now for the bad news: JibJab Jr. Books is mysteriously mute. The book is devoid of music, sound effects, and narration, elements that help make other iPad e-books--to say nothing of JibJab's own products!--such a delight. Consequently, the whole experience seems lacking. The app is just weird in its oppressive silence.

Of course, it's still an animated book starring your very own little reader, and what's wrong with the parent doing the reading and supplying the sound effects? Not a thing. That's how it works with traditional children's books, right?

JibJab Jr. Books is free, as is the aforementioned starter book. Additional books (of which there are two at the moment, with a new one due each month) cost $7.99 each, or you can subscribe for $3.99 monthly. That's obviously the better deal, as it also allows you to purchase previous books a-la-carte for $3.99 each.

If you're new to iPad e-books for kids, be sure to check out my most recent roundup of some the latest and greatest titles. In the meantime, tell me what you think of JibJab Jr. Books. Supercool or desperately seeking sound effects?