Have you caught the Cars 2 movie yet? Well, my little boy was delighted to help me review the new digital book app by the same title, especially after seeing the movie. The app is a packed offering that includes a storybook, puzzles, painting pages and two small mini games. If you liked Cars 2 or plan to see it soon, this is sure to be a hit with your little Disney fan, too.
The movie plot points are highlighted throughout the book, but it could be difficult to follow if you aren't familiar with the film. For my little boy, I think seeing the book before the movie gave him a lot of fun anticipation, but he didn't fully understand the way the plot was connected until after we saw Cars 2 in the theater together (nor did I, really). The movie itself is a fun, spy-themed sequel to the original movie, with the usual cast of international bad guys & good guys. The book doesn't give away the movie's final plot twists, though, so no major spoilers at least.
The book has some cute but very limited animated interactions that take place once every few pages. Racers zoom by, Mater's eyes move and several characters move around a little bit. The accelerometer even gets some playtime when Mater is escaping with a parachute in one scene and then again when he dangles from the ceiling from a rope inside 'Big Bentley' in London.
Some pages in between these interactive scenes have icons for the painting page, puzzle or mini-game feature, taking the child into another activity bundled within the story (and also accessible from the main menu at the bottom of every page). The two mini games consist of "Toyko Lights" (a 'Simon' style game) and "Mater's Tire Toss" (a simple physics based 'flick to toss' game w/pinball twist). There are also five puzzles with three difficulty levels, plus five 'painting' pages based on scenes in the storybook.
As a digital title, the book is solidly made and includes the ability to record your own narration. The voice over by David Jeremiah is especially nice, highlighting as read with musical accompaniment from the movie. There are also lots of simple settings for reading without narration, auto-play and ways to 'keep in touch' with Disney. Page turn is by arrows and the text is in an easy-to-read font for young readers on their own. Overall this is a movie-themed title with lots of appeal for children who love the Disney 'Cars' franchise.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Disney Digital Books
Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications
10 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 3 - 8
The book begins with Finn McMissile & Holley Shiftwell (British spies) in Tokyo looking for an American spy with important information. Meanwhile, Lightening McQueen & his best friend Mater the tow truck are getting ready for the race. While on stage with Miles Axelrod, the sponsor of the 'World Grand Prix', Mater appears to leak oil, leaving for the bathroom in embarrassment. When he leaves the bathroom stall, Mater interrupts a fight involving the American agent, who plants some top secret information on Mater's undercarriage.
Holley thinks Mater is the American agent and talks to him about meeting again. Mater thinks the beautiful sports car wants a date with him, so he tells her, "Tomorrow I'll be out there at the races." At the races, several cars have their engines blow up and Mater is distracted by Holley's voice asking him to leave 'the pit'.
Mater ends up leaving the race to try to meet Holley, but forgets he is still connected by headset to Lightening McQueen. This causes confusion, with the race car changing lanes at the wrong time, causing him to lose. In his shame, Mater decides to leave. At the airport, Finn McMissile takes Mater away in a private jet after being chased by the same cars he had met in the bathroom fight. Finn & Holley congratulate Mater on the mission, not believing him when he says he isn't a secret agent.
The British spies get Mater to go on a new mission in Italy instead of going home, disguising him to blend into a meeting of the bad guys (Russian 'lemons' or cars that are old and outdated). He finds out that there is a plot to blow up racers in the 'World Grand Prix'. Mater is chased but escapes by parachute. Before he can warn McQueen about the evil plot, though, he is captured by the bad guys.
Mater, Finn & Holley are all held prisoner when Mater wakes up next ... tied up inside the gears of Big Bentley in London. Mater breaks free once he realizes there's still time to save McQueen. The British spies escape, too, racing to deal with another issue: a bomb has been planted under Mater's hood. When Mater finds out he is rigged with a bomb, he tries to get away from everyone. The British spies are helped by McQueen's crew from Radiator Springs in their fight against the 'bad' cars.
Mater succeeds in figuring out 'exactly who could deactivate the bomb,' so everyone is safe. He gets an audience with the queen, who dubs him 'Sir Tow Mater'. The crew is welcomed back in Radiator Springs and a new race is set up. Finn & Holley show up and ask Mater to go on a new mission. He declines, wanting to stay home, but they let him keep his hidden spy rockets. The end.