"I'm going on a fantastic adventure," says Jack as this story starts. Full of polished animation and fun interactivity that moves the story along, Jack and the Beanstalk by Mindshapes brings a fairy tale classic to digital in a way that is close to perfection. This title is fun, engaging and nicely enhanced for educational use. It features the kind of animation and cartoon-like illustrations that kids love, along with a nice retelling of the classic story about a boy who trades the family cow for three 'magic beans'.
The interactive elements in this app are top notch. Tap the mom to make her toss the beans out the window to grow into a giant beanstalk. Watch Jack eat his fill of cakes in the giant's house before gathering up the treasures and running for his life. You can even help him swing his axe at the stalk, over and over, until he finally cuts it down. The reader is an intrinsic part of the story's progression, right down to picking a unique outfit for Jack to wear before he heads up the beanstalk. You can even tilt the device to help Jack, when he is climbing up to or falling down from the sky.
This app has adequate settings, including page turn by simple arrows. There is also a nice page guide, home button and easy to read font that highlights as read. Tap to hear any word in the text or tap on characters to see speech bubbles with additional dialogue that extends the storytelling. Even as a five-star title, there are a few areas for improvement, however. I would love to have a way to turn off the background music separately from the other audio elements. The music is sometimes so loud it interferes with narration. Narration also stops if interactive elements are tapped too soon. Other than those small technical recommendations, this is a fabulous storybook app.
Overall, this is a must-download title. Not only is it highly recommended, engaging for kids and full of nice enhancements, but it's also free (at time of review). There are many options in the app store for fairy tales; dozens are available just for Jack and the Beanstalk alone. This title stands out above the rest, not only for its price (which is remarkable) but also because it is so beautifully animated. If you are looking for a storybook with innovative interactivity, look no further. My highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
10 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 3 - 9
This tale follows the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk, although modern twists appear, like having Jack playing video games in the first scene. Plot synopsis, courtesy Wikipedia:
"Jack is a young lad living with his widowed mother. Their only means of income is a cow. When this cow stops giving milk one morning, Jack is sent to the market to sell it. On the way to the market he meets an old man who offers to give him "magic" beans in exchange for the cow.
Jack takes the beans but when he arrives home without money, his mother becomes furious and puts the beans outside the window and sends Jack to bed without supper.
As Jack sleeps, the beans grow into a gigantic beanstalk. Jack climbs the bean stalk and arrives in a land high up in the sky where he follows a road to a house, which is the home of an ogre. He enters the house and asks the ogre's wife for food. She gives him food, but the ogre returns and senses that a human is nearby:
However, Jack is hidden by the ogre's wife and overhears the ogre counting his money. Jack steals a bag of gold coins as he makes his escape down the beanstalk. Jack repeats his journey up the beanstalk two more times, each time he is helped by the increasingly suspicious wife of the ogre and narrowly escapes with one of the ogre's treasures. The second time he steals a hen which laid golden eggs and the third time a magical harp that played by itself. This time he is almost caught by the ogre who follows him down the beanstalk. Jack calls his mother for an axe and chops the beanstalk down, killing the ogre. The end of the story has Jack and his mother living happily ever after with their new riches."