Note: This book contains no narration & limited amounts of text for instructions, making it a good choice for a 'wordless' picturebook in digital. Wordless titles like this have been unique but essential, even in print, for eliciting children's own storytelling and expressive language development.
Karl’s Castle is an interactive picture book for young children from by Ravensburger Digital. It is available in both iPhone and iPad versions, this review is of the iPad version. It contains no adverts or in-app purchases. It does contain app store and social media links behind a parental gate.
Although Karl’s Castle is in the book section of the app store it is not a conventional book app- there are no pages to turn or story to read. Instead it is a very detailed castle scene to explore and interact with. Growing up the name Ravensburger was synonymous with high quality jigsaw puzzles, and I can just image this image being made into a 1,000 piece puzzle – it is really well illustrated with an incredible amount of detail, and a sense of humor showing through.
When you start the app you enter the castle via the drawbridge and the heavy wooden doors slowly swing open to the strains of medieval – sounding music. Once inside, the music gives way to sounds of castle life with chickens clucking and birds squawking in the background, the music and sound effects can be muted in settings, but they really help bring the app to life. You can view the castle as a whole by panning out and tapping on the screen will zoom in to explore in more detail. There is a lot to find in the castle- over 70 interactive elements, including plants, animals and people. Throughout the scene you can find the castle inhabitants getting on with their daily lives including drawing water from a well, cooking over an open fire, feeding animals, children playing, knights practicing their archery and sword fighting. Tapping on many of these triggers a short animation, including some funny ones such as an archer misfiring his bow and hitting the painters bottom, and a knight in armor being knocked of his horse as he rides through half-open portcullis. There are also many familiar characters to discover including the Princess and the Frog; the Pied Piper of Hamelin; Sleeping Beauty, The Emperor’s New Clothes and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. As you pan around the castle turrets there is a nice 3D effect as you explore the outer layers of the castle buildings and the surrounding countryside. The app supports multi-touch which is great for little fingers and also means you can play more than one interaction at once.
The app also includes 3 mini-games, these are marked by “!” signs over the characters, you can switch off the mini-games in settings.
1. Hide and Seek
This is played with a young would-be knight riding a hobby horse. He hides in the castle grounds and you need to find him, once you’ve found him 5 times the game is over. It can be quite challenging as sometimes he hides in unexpected places such as on a rooftop.
2. Find the Pied Piper’s Rats
The Pied Piper’s rats have gone missing and he asks you to help find them. They are each hiding with just their tail peeking out (but there are sparkles to help you find them), once you’ve found them all the Pied Piper and his rats play you a song.
3. Musical Birds
A group of musical birds are perched on a clothes line. The birds each sing a different note and in a classic memory game they play a sequence of notes which you need to memorize and repeat. As you play the game they are teaching you a song line by line, and they play the whole song once you completed each step. The more you play the more songs are unlocked.
The mini-games are a nice extra feature and I would love to see a few more added – maybe a treasure hunt to find different characters or animals ? One thing that did bother me is the mini-games assume the child is reading, but the parental gate assumes the child is not (you follow directions such as swipe 1 finger to the left). The mini-game instructions are written but not spoken, so the first time a non-reading child plays they will need an adult’s help, I would really like to see verbal directions added.
Overall this is a fun and unusual children’s app. It will appeal most to toddlers, pre-school and early elementary school age children, especially those with an interest in castles or who dream of being a knight or princess. I especially like the wonderful illustrations- they are rich, detailed and full of life and the interactions- there are so many to be found with a nice variety from simple sound effects to fun animations.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
This review was originally published by TheiMums.com on April 13, 2014. The iMums – Amanda, Alison, Mary and Grace – are four mothers from different parts of the world dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children. Founded in August 2011, the four iMums have 11 kids among them ranging in age from 1 to 17 and bring a global perspective to their app reviews.
The original iMum Amanda being from Australia, Alison is in America, Grace is from Singapore and Mary is from the UK but is currently living in America. Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Ravensburger Digital Team
Ravensburger Digital GmbH
30 - 45 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8 +
English • French • Spanish •German •Italian •Japanese •Dutch •
Experience a world of fantasy that will enchant you over and over again. In Karl's Castle you will discover knights, princesses and well-known characters from fairy tales. An interactive world of hidden objects for young and old.
Developed for children age two and older.
- Over 70 interactions and more than 50 characters.
- Captivating, hand- drawn illustrations.
- Intuitive, child-friendly navigation.
- 3 great mini-games.
- Multi-touch capability: recognition of several fingers simultaneously.
- High quality animations and humorous sounds.
Karl's Castle is an interactive picture book for children. By zooming, swiping and pressing a new world is revealed that is full of little experiences. You will meet many amusing creatures, animals and well-known fairytale characters. You can watch as Sleeping Beauty is awakened by the prince's kiss, the Frog Prince saves the princess' golden ball from the well, or help the Pied Piper bring back his runaway rats.