This is another top notch animated title from Mobad Media, just in time for Chinese New Year! It features scenes that tilt for a 3D effect when the device is moved, lots of interactivity and a story that will engage kids from start to finish. It even includes some great extras, featuring information about the Chinese Zodiac and a series of hidden coins children can find while exploring each page.
Dominic is a young dragon that wants to enter the community boat race with his friend Bo and an assortment of characters representing the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. When no one will help the young crew learn how to paddle, they don't give up. In the end, Dominic saves the day with some ingenious ideas. See synopsis for the full story, but be warned that it may spoil the surprise at the end.
This story book isn't ideal for bedtime, both because it is quite animated and rather long, but it is great for reading at other times. This is an especially good title to engage a child for at least 30 minutes by themselves. Narration is delightful, highlighting as read. Words even react to a light tap by repeating the voice-over (although it has a clipped quality to the audio for this feature).
Fun illustrations and lots of story-related interactivity round out this solidly made app. Overall this is a well-crafted story that champions persistence and creative problem solving. It ends with, "Wherever they went, [Bo & Dom] learned how to be good sports and make their parents proud of them in new ways."
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Oliver Chin/Jennifer Wood
20 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 5 - 9
A pair of proud dragon parents hatch a baby named Dominic. They fly across the kingdom to show their little one the world. As Dom grows he learns to all kinds of fun dragon-y things. One day, he meets a boy named Bo and gets invited to a swimming party. During the party, the kids see a group of people rowing a canoe. Dom wants to learn to paddle!
The adults in the boat laugh at Dom and Bo, saying they don't have time to teach them with the big race next week. They ask several others to help them learn, but no one is willing to help but the Emperor himself, who lends the pair a canoe. The motley crew (representing all the animals of the Chinese Zodiac), jumps in the new boat, but find paddling difficult. Dom in particular can't seem to find a place to put his big tail and turns the boat over, spilling everyone into the water.
Despite taunting from the other boats paddling by, the group decides to keep trying. Even Dom's parents tell him he has better things to do with his time, but Dom has a plan. The young dragon becomes the boat. "There are no rules against a dragon boat," say the friends as they sail easily by the other vessels on the water.
On race day, Dom and his friends are excited but nervous. They are in last pace half-way into the race when Dom has another idea ... he takes a deep breath and makes himself as straight as an arrow, slicing quickly through the water and passing everyone. Soon they can see the Dragon Gate (finish line) and are neck in neck with another boat ... but just as they get to the end, Dom stretches his neck a bit.
"The dragon boat has won by a nose!" declares the Emperor. The winners receive a large pearl as their prize. Dom and Bo continued to be friends, too. "From then on, Dom inspired many dragon boat races. And everyone from heaven below agreed that it was a magical year of the dragon."