The vision for the touch tablet and education is beautifully realized in this non-fiction app about a fascinating mammal that has been a source of human fear and fantasy for generations. Aimed at older elementary school aged children, this app about bats is accessible to pre-readers too, with great narration and easy navigation hints.
Older readers, including adults will be enchanted with the stunning visual and sound effects and may even learn a thing or two along the way. Young learners will expand their knowledge about the only mammals to fly, different species of bats and their various community habitats. There is even a great section on how a bat's skeleton compares to a human's, including a cool diagram of what a human with wings might look like based on bat morphology.
The combination of polished enhancements alongside reference material is a perfect blend to make learning nearly effortless simply because it is so engaging. While in a wave pool recently, my 5-year old spontaneously made the connection between the way the waves were bouncing back off the side of the pool, saying, "That's just like echo-location, like how bats can see with sound."
Not much more would be needed for a mom to think an app is amazing than to have their young child grasp such a complex idea (and transfer that knowledge successfully), but even before this I was ready to rave about this app. It is beautifully produced and full of many 'wow' moments, including gorgeous animation and cool interactivity that enhances deeper learning and reflection about each topic.
Pacing is really important in this app, however, which is the main reason I would recommend it for readers six and up. If you follow the arrow guides that show you how to turn the pages (often by swiping up, rather than traditional page turning by arrows or swiping at the edge of the page), touching too soon interrupts the voice-over, creating a bit of confusion. A simple fix might be to inhibit the page turn interaction until after each segment of text has been voiced. Only minor improvements could make this title better, like the addition of highlighting with the narration (for younger & struggling readers) as well as a more complete page guide, rather than just chapters for navigation.
But these are minor issues in a non-fiction title that is so inspirational for young animal lovers. The intended audience is listed as 6-11 years old, but younger and older readers will likely find this title deeply satisfying. Everyone in our family enjoyed this app and I might even be a bit less squeamish about bats in general. Maybe they aren't just 'flying rodents' after all. This is the kind of app that sets the bar high (as it should be) for future developers of non-fiction titles. Highly Recommended!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Mary Kay Carson/Various Illustrators
Story Worldwide LLC
25 - 40 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 6 - 11
This non-fiction title covers many aspects of bats, presented in seven chapters of 5-10 pages each, on average. The chapters are:
1. Fliers with Fur
2. Winged Mammals
3. Places to Rest
4. Seeing with Sound
5. Bats of Many Kinds
6. Bat Colonies
7. Amazing Animals