This is a fabulous book app about a little boy, his dog and the robot they build together. The story is told with stick-figure cartoon characters that are charming despite (or perhaps because of) their simple, scribbled style. They live in an eccentric village with a dinosaur chef and a monkey that delivers the mail. Even the font is quirky, but it all comes together beautifully, with light animation and a well-crafted storyline. The best part is a surprisingly diverse set of enhancements that are story-related (and super fun).
As Pete and his dog wait (and wait) for the robot parts to arrive, the reader can swipe the screen to see the sky change from day to night and back to day again, reinforcing the time they are waiting in a neat way. And when the robot enters a dance contest, my little boy was up and dancing after first moving the iPad to show me how make the robot dance myself. I scored this app lower for bedtime, in part because it is simply too much fun for settling down (and the interactions can repeat indefinitely). Nice hints are provided with the tap of a little question mark button, but many young readers won't need much help.
The font is stylized, making reading potentially difficult for some youngsters. The narration doesn't highlight as read, but it makes up for this with three different, and equally enjoyable voice-overs. Narration can be interrupted by tapping the page too soon, so it's best to wait for it to finish reading before letting little fingers explore each page. There are also ample settings, including a wonderful page guide. The only serious critique I have for this app are the links at the end of the story (for Twitter, Facebook and the developer's website). The social media links in particular, are inappropriate for an app aimed at kids and ideally should be removed or at least tucked away.
Overall, though, this is an exceptional story app that will put a smile on the face of any young (or even old) robot lover. Silly faces, funny dance moves and the charming 'heartdrive' that powers the robot's 'humanity' will have children asking to re-read this book often. Adults will also appreciate the solid production values, engaging storyline and thoughtful use of enhancements. This is an app that stands out in a very crowded market. Highly recommended!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Heartdrive Media LLC
8 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 3 - 8
A boy named Pete and his dog, Spot, decide one day to build a robot. They order the parts they need online and wait for them to arrive in the mail. Their packages are delivered by a 'mail' monkey. Pete goes into his workshop and builds "day and night" until he can show Spot the new robot. But they have forgotten one part ... the robot's 'heartdrive' is missing.
The robot is out of control, heading into town and delivering all the mail he's stolen from the mail-monkey to the wrong people. He also enters a dance contest, makes mud pies at the local diner and breaks all the candy jars in the sweet shop. Then the robot hides in the bushes as the town businesses close to clean up the mess.
From his hiding spot, the robot hears a girl, Sally, crying about her cat stuck in a tree. Without his heartdrive, though, the robot doesn't know what to do to help. Thankfully, Pete & Spot found the package and had been chasing the robot all over town. They catch up to the robot and put his heartdrive in place. The robot sees the world in color for the first time. Then he immediately runs over to the tree and gets Sally's cat down safely. The townspeople cheer.
After that, Pete calls the robot, "Hero" and they start a band. It ends with hints of a sequel, perhaps? "And that was just the beginning of their many adventures."