Koto is a dog with a rich fantasy life that we learn about in this digital title. It alternates between highly animated scenes and a more simple style of two-color line drawings with the story's text. Nice narration and sound effects round out this title, although it is not an easy one to read without the voice-over.
In the text of the story we learn about what Koto imagines he is hearing, as he pictures spirits, monsters, witches and dragons. After the final narrated segment, a short animated video plays showing that the real sounds are coming from things like the washing machine, television, and just the wind. The artistic style of the two story elements is very different, as Koto goes back and forth between his imagined role as a warrior and the reality of a suburban night's sounds.
While this story is cute, especially the crazy things Koto thinks are happening when he hears each sound in the night, the book's construction is a little puzzling. The story doesn't feel very well integrated visually, going from line drawn illustrations that can be paged through before featuring a polished computer-animated scene at the end of each 'chapter' or series of several sentences, for 9 animated segments total.
Overall, this is a fun read for ages 6-9. Children under six may not understand all aspects of the story, but will be captivated by the animated interludes. The technical set-up of the app does create a strong separation between the two aspects of the storyline (the imagined vs. the real), but it misses something in the process that may be important for younger readers' story comprehension.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Daniel Shneor/April Peter
5 - 7 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 6 - 9
Koto is a dog with a fantasy that shows him as a samurai ... Koto is awake at night, looking for strange and confusing sounds that have upset him. His goal is to be a 'samurai of the night' and to 'silence' each room.
In the living room, he hears chattering and 'spirits' (the TV), which he silences with the remote. Then he hurries down to the basement, where he hears a clatter that turns out to be the washing machine. [It goes off on its own at the end of the cycle.]
Then Koto hears scratching on the window, which turns out to be the wind. Koto secures the shutters. More crazy sounds outside sends the pup outside to turn off the porch light (thus silencing the insects that were buzzing around).
Following even more crazy sounds into the yard, Koto finds cats and other animals going through the trash. He scares them off, silencing the racket. The dog even ventures onto the roof to tighten a creaky weather-vane.
But then wind-chimes start up, which Koto imagines to be a dragon. When he finds the chimes, he leaves them alone, deciding to fall asleep to the tinkling song.