123 Shape Up Number Town is part of a series of app books by Jane Hague. This Australian series is set in a town with many interesting characters - all numbered. For instance there is Tilly Two herself and Policeman Ernie Eight. The main character of this story is Sally Seven the Sports Star who is trying to help the school children stay fit.
One day, Sally Seven has an idea for a 'walking school bus' as a way for children to walk to school. They all meet - along with adult volunteers - to walk to school together the next morning. Sally also inspires the townsfolk to roller-skate, take karate and go bowling in this great story about physical fitness. The book also re-enforces time-telling skills, showing several clocks along the way to mark the different times of day that the story's events take place. The days of the week feature prominently as well, making this an excellent educational title for young readers.
This book is well made with easy swipe-style page turning or the alternative of auto-play. The text highlights as it is narrated in a crisp Australian accent. There are several interactive sound effects to go along with the otherwise still images, like the sound of sports events (basketball, karate, bowling) and also narrated descriptions of the characters and the times on the prominent clocks featured throughout. The illustrations are comical and colorful in a way children will find engaging. My child enjoyed this story a lot, especially the hidden number '7' in many of the pictures.
There are three nicely made 'extras' included in the book as well. One is a map of Numbertown with all of the charming townsfolk numbered from 1-10. If you tap on any one of the people it takes you to their homes or workplaces on the map. The 2nd extra can be found by tapping on the '123' (on the home page) to go to a page with the numbers 1-10. Tap on any one of the numbers to see a larger picture of the character associated with that number while hearing the number spoken aloud. If you tap on the character, a short audio of the character plays describing his or her role in the town.
The final extra is a clock that can be set to any time on the hour. This is a great addition to the book and enhances the learning about time-telling. The only difficulty with this delightful book, and this extra clock, is that there is no way to navigate the book, so this extra is buried at the end and can only be accessed by swiping through 60+ pages. The addition of a page guide would make this title truly perfect.
Overall, this book is great choice for kids. As digital apps, this series also has just the right amount of enhancement to engage young readers without over-shadowing the storytelling. I review a lot of books and my preschooler consistently requests the 'Number Town' books over many others I've reviewed. And this one is my favorite ... so far.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Jane Hague/Ferdinand Tang
123 Number Fun Pty Ltd
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8
Sally Seven the Sports Star wants to help Number Town get in shape. She suggests a 'walking school bus' to her sports coach. She has all the school children gather at a meeting place in the morning to walk to school together, with adults volunteering to lead the bus and bring up the rear by walking behind the kids. Policeman Ernie Eight and Nurse Trixie Six agree to help out. Sally even has a nutritious lunch with Nurse Trixie. After several days of walking to school, Fisherman Fergus Four even joins the group, getting some extra exercise himself. Sally suggests that they all go roller-skating after-school, too. They meet at 4pm. She also runs into Policeman Ernie Eight who has decided to learn karate. And after she hears about Nun Nine and the bee-keeper (Mr. Hive Five) practicing lawn bowling, Sally decides to help the town create a ten-pin bowling team. The book ends with a clock to practice telling time.