Fans of David Wiesner are familiar with his talent for visual storytelling. Many of his books actually contain no words, as is the case for this app. That leaves readers (or in this case the app users) the ability to use their imaginations and create their own version of what is going on. The white and blue pencil zooms into a snow scene full of sledding bugs and snowflakes. You can even zoom into some mold on a sandwich and discover a whole forest scene, including a ladybug family on a picnic together.
First, the illustrations are phenomenal. I am talking some of the best I’ve seen. This is more than “hey, what a cute picture, let’s see what happens when I tap here” kind of ebook app. Each scene begs for young minds to explore and dig deeper. Kids don’t just tap on a newspaper on the table, they zoom in and are transported into the picture in the headline.
It would be nice if there were a little more to the small interactions on the screen. When tapping on the adorable dust bunnies, they bounce just a bit, but that is all. When in a robot land, some of the robots make noises when tapped, but scrolling through the scene, many others make no noise or movement. There were actually a few times where we got stuck and couldn’t quite figure out where to go next to move on to another scene.
I initially went straight to the app. I zoomed and tapped and moved all through the imaginative world, but I was a little lost. I admit, I’m a 30-something year old adult, and as much as I like to pretend, I no longer have the imagination and curiosity of a child — which is, after all, the target audience for this app. I wanted a story line and a little structure. I did what most adults would do and went to the Parent Section of the app.
In the parent section I saw there is a free companion book on iBooks, David Wiesner’s Spot: A Parent and Educator Guide. This is exactly what I needed! I don’t want to sound like I’m such an old fuddy-duddy, but sometimes I feel as if I’m missing the big picture with an app of this magnitude. After going through the guide I was overwhelmed, in a good way, by all the ways parents and teachers can utilize this app. There are discussion questions, explanations, hints and more. My favorite part is the Behind the Scenes section which shows how David Wiesner came up with the concept.
The app is fantastic, but if you find your child flips through it once and is done, give the guide a read. Explore with your kid. Talk and ask questions as he travels through the scenes. Honestly, my kids had to tell me to wait my turn because I kept saying, “Oh, click here . . . zoom there . . . what happens if you go there . . . ” It is fun having an app we can play and use together.
Evaluating the price of an app like this can be difficult. It is $3.99, which in the everyday app world is on the high side, but in this case, is definitely worth it. For that price, there are no ads, no in-app purchases and an amazing amount of detailed and well thought out graphics. This book is still cheaper than most children’s books and offers so much more content and interaction.
Bottom Line: Children can be transported into the beautifully detailed world of David Wiesner, a children’s book author and illustrator and three-time Caldecott Medal winner. David Wiesner's Spot app is really in a league of its own. It’s not really a book app, but more of a portal to nourish a child’s imagination. This is one of the few apps I’ve seen where the concept and execution mesh perfectly.
Our Highest Recommendation!
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.
The author of this review, Rachel H. wanted to write children's books when she was a kid, but will settle for collecting them instead. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.
This guest review was originally published by SmartAppsforKids.com on January 26, 2014. SmartAppsforKids is one of the top review sites for kids educational apps, games and books. They strive for meticulousness and honesty in their reviews, both positive and negative. Their goal is to be the most complete source for parents and educators looking for reliable info on an app before making a purchase.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
30 - 45 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 2 - 9 +
Five fantastical worlds intertwine in this wordless book app that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, the honor awarded to the most distinguished American picture book for children.
According to Children’s Technology Review, “This app uses a ‘powers of ten’ navigation technique, meaning that you pinch and zoom in (or out) of a scene in order to get around… No reading is required. It's better to think of this app as an inside-out experience, where you make the narrative. This is easy to do... thanks to the wide ranging themes. You find animals (primarily cats and dust bunnies), outer space creatures, fish and spots of mold, and it all starts with a spot on the ladybug on the main menu.”
Ever wonder what’s living under your chair? Find the dust bunnies of Lower Rügg where they’re waiting to be characters in your story! Zoom into a scrap of newspaper next to the bunnies, keep zooming, zoom a little more… and voilà! You’re transported through a puddle into the vast underwater world of Oceana Prime teeming with creatures. Pinch-and-zoom and slide side to side to uncover the mysteries of the deep. Pinch-and-zoom through glowing hotspots to be transported to four other inventive worlds filled with animals and aliens ready to be characters in your story.
Be sure to download Spot’s accompanying multi-touch companion e-book, David Wiesner’s Spot: A Parent and Educator Guide that enhances this imaginative experience. The guide includes creative storytelling prompts for parents and unique writing and classroom activities for teachers. [Source: iTunes]