[This book has been re-released as a lite version - full book is now an in-app purchase.] Petshop Boy is a new offering from Jollybooks, the developer that created "An Elephant in my Pocket". The story's creators clearly know how to capture the whimsy of childhood. In this book, a little boy tells us about his many adventures in finding the right pet. He starts small with a hermit crab but after it bites him he decides to take it back. He then gets a mouse, but when it keeps him up at night, he takes it back too. This catch-and-release hunt for a pet continues with a fish, snake, cat and even a dog. In the end, sadly, he decides none of the pets can really live up to his expectations. "Maybe I'll just collect stickers instead," he wonders on the last page.
Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility and I remember desperately wanting a pet when I was a child, only to discover how much work one little hamster can be. So it's easy for not only kids, but also adults to identify with the child in this story. My son particularly liked the funny images and interactive elements. We were both delighted by the scene where tapping on the boy's piggy bank causes the pig to smile widely and laugh at the boy while a crab dangles off his finger in a death grip.
The sound effects and small animated scenes in this book are often humorous. When the boy brings home a snake (wrapped around his head like a turban), tapping on the mom causes a shriek. And watching someone try to walk a fish or even a cat on a leash is hilarious to young kids. The sounds themselves, particularly the animal sounds, are crisp and authentic and add a nice level of interactivity for a story very much about animals.
I was really rooting for the boy to find a good pet, something 'just right', but the story does end on a somewhat sad note; the boy ends up thinking a pet is just too much trouble. But perhaps collecting stickers is not a bad idea for a child not quite ready for the real responsibility of pet ownership. Overall a charming storybook with lots of surprises to discover along the way.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
6 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8
Petshop Boy is a book told in the first person by a little boy who wants to get a pet. He goes to the pet store to buy something and first goes home with a hermit crab. But the crab pinches him and back to the store they go. Next he tries a mouse but the smell and running on a wheel all night long makes the boy crazy. So back he goes to the pet store to trade the mouse in for a ... fish. But the fish is too boring, so back he goes to get a ... snake. Only his mom won't even let him in the door with the scary reptile, so back to the pet store he goes. This time he returns home with a cat, but it doesn't like to play fetch and scratches the boy. One final try brings the boy home with a dog. The dog chews and tears up everything, so the boy finally gives up and decides that maybe instead he should just collect stickers.