Pinocchio (So Ouat!) is a fun, although greatly abridged, retelling of the story of a puppet that becomes a real boy. As I recorded the synopsis for this book, I found the version a bit unique, but nonetheless enjoyable. Nicely enhanced with light animation, this is a book app that is as fun to watch as it is to read.
Characters in the book act out the scenes from each page and perform dialogue as it is read in the text. There isn't anything interactive about the illustrations, although tapping the screen does stop and start the narration (which highlights as read).
The only true interactivity present in this book is in the 'extra' - a unique drop down of each page's text that can be explored with several words highlighted. Tap on any of these words to get either a definition or image to help young readers expand their vocabulary. You can also switch this text to print or cursive (French or English), or set it to a mode that highlights all the vowels on the page.
This book doesn't have a page guide (which would be a nice addition), but my biggest complaint is that this title was impossible to set-up for reading without narration. Buttons to restart & play/pause are at the bottom of every page, but in the off mode there is no way to trigger the animation. This means you can read the text without narration, but you then miss almost all of the visual storytelling. The book is also permanently set to autoplay, even though you can swipe to turn pages.
In addition, I am a bit concerned about the sheer number of ways to leave this app. There are Facebook and Twitter icons that literally bounce, alongside icons of the developer's other apps that scroll constantly along the bottom of the title page - enticing youngsters. If you tap on any of the links, there is at least a warning asking you if you want to proceed, but these elements did give me pause as a parent.
Otherwise, this is a solidly made book from a nice series of fairy tale apps. They have lots of appeal for children with nicely enhanced stories, as well as a variety of interesting educational extras.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Sophie Meyer (Adapted from Carlo Collodi)
10 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8
A woodcarver named Geppetto dreamed of having a son. One day he created a marionette that looked just like a child and was surprised to find the puppet walking & talking on its own the next morning. He named the puppet-boy "Pinocchio". While Geppetto is off at work that first day, a little cricket tells Pinocchio, "Never lie to your father and make sure you attend school!" But Pinocchio does not listen, preferring instead to have fun.
Instead of going to school, Pinocchio hangs out in town, eventually exploring the theater where he heard laughter. When he gets backstage he finds a costume and heads out on stage himself. His performance is a hit and he receives money from the troupe leader for his act. On his way home to give the money to Geppetto, Pinocchio gets distracted by a 'limping fox and blind cat'. They convince the foolish puppet-boy to plant the coins in a field to grow a 'money tree', but then run off with his money.
Then Pinocchio becomes tired and hungry, so he knocks on the door of a small house in the forest. A fairy answers the door and asks Pinocchio why he is not in school. Pinocchio lies, saying he was in school that very morning, causing his nose to grow. The more he lied the longer his nose became. Realizing he was bad at telling lies, Pinocchio promises the fairy that he will always tell the truth and go straight home to Geppetto.
Before arriving home, Pinocchio comes across a donkey cart with children riding & singing. They invite him to 'the land of toys' and despite his promise to the fairy he hops in. In Toyland, Pinocchio has a lot of fun, but one morning he wakes up as a donkey. He runs to a nearby beach and jumps in the sea which changes him back to a marionette. Before he can reach shore, though, he is swallowed by a large shark where he finds Geppetto who is also inside the sea creature.
Since the shark had a cold, the two are sneezed out into the ocean, freeing them to swim back to the beach. Glad to be home with his father, Pinocchio becomes a serious student. One night the fairy visits to reward Pinocchio for being such a good boy, making him into a real child. Geppetto is thrilled to find he has a 'real son' the next morning.
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