In this sequel to Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island, readers are in for a treat! Full of exceptional interactivity that is both story-related and fun, this title surpasses the first book in a way that is rare for a series. The first title was based on a print book with a similar approach to non-linear storytelling, using a series of treasure chests at the bottom of the book (with small toys representing each new page). In print, this title has been a family favorite in our home to this day. But, in digital, this title really took the storytelling up a notch, with a design that feels tailored to the medium of the touch tablet without losing any of the ingenuity of the original design.
Fun interactive elements include touching the 'globe' lamp to see Kai disappear, placing each of the seven keys to find new clues and a sea of pages to explore as the story is either read silently or with narration (with phrase by phrase highlighting). Page turn is by simple arrows, making the interactive 'sprites' easy to find without accidentally turning the page. Text is presented in a small box that can be dragged to different areas of the page when exploring the detailed and cartoon-like illustrations. Arrows at the bottom of this text box allow the reader to move through the story as well as play & pause the narration. Fun elements to play with include a soccer ball that bounces around Kai's bedroom and a globe lamp that turns off and on. Some of these interactions are not entirely related to the plot, but they rarely distract from this very engaging storyline.
I met the author, Karen Robertson, nearly 18 months ago and have been impressed by her dedication to the story app format. I also love her vision, which is really focused on making reading fun, especially for older and reluctant readers. The Treasure Kai books are apps I have enjoyed, even as an adult, but the real 'treasure' for me has been in watching my young son read the stories and talk about the plot. These are titles where reading comprehension comes before 'bells & whistles' (which are also stellar in this series, but never get in the way of the narrative).
Treasure Kai's new adventure is so engaging that we have done many 'extension' activities, like pretending to be Kai on an exploration of our yard, creating original stories about traveling through time, making our own treasure maps and treasure hunts, which gives my rather gifted 6-year old reader the opportunity to challenge himself by sounding out all the clues by himself. Free curriculum activities are available on the developers website, at: http://treasurekai.com/educate, making this a top recommendation for educational settings!
This title also has a lot of nice settings, presented in the image of an old-fashioned pocket-watch. You can adjust the volume of the music, sound effects and narration, use the page guide or home button for navigation or even 're-scramble' the seven adventures/keys to make the story different from the last time it was read. This section also includes several links that leave the app, something parents should be aware of, including links to the AppStore, Web & Email. A way to turn these links off or create a secondary menu for them (like with a code or other barrier for kids) would be helpful, but they are at least tucked away in the settings menu, an area where kids are unlikely to spend much time.
Overall, this is an exceptional title, full of all the important elements that inspire kids to read a book "over and over". While some of the technical aspects are not as polished as they could be for animation, most young readers will never notice, since they will be so engrossed in the storyline. This book is a great addition to any digital bookshelf, especially for inspiring reluctant readers and providing fun historical context for children to create their own stories, treasure maps and more.
The Treasure Kai series is simply a must-download for anyone with a treasure-hunting obsessed child - providing hours of entertainment and lots of great activities to build on the love of reading these books can inspire. Reading is meant to sweep you into another world, and Treasure Kai does this so well for young readers it is impossible not to give it my highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Karen Guinn Robertson/Victor Guiza
Treasure Bound Books Pty Ltd
12 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 10 +
In the first story, The Lost Gold of Shark Island, a little boy named Kai has an exceptional dream on his 10th birthday. At the beginning of this story, we meet Kai again, with his best friend Kate. It turns out that Kate also had the same dream and knows all about Kai's last adventure ...
A small note is still in Kai's hand when he returns from the dream, giving a clue that starts this next mystery, about Francisco Coronado's search for the "Seven Cities of Gold" in 1540 ... when Kai touches the spot on his globe lamp, where the "x" on the map would be in Mexico, he suddenly disappears right in front of Kate's eyes.
Soon Kate is searching the shop for a 'portal' that the note mentions and discovers an old locket that lets her see everything ... Kai has been transported back in time to the pyramids of Mexico during the 16th Century! He is on another adventure, this time trying to find the seven keys to unlock the mystery.
In the end, Kai & Kate uncover many mysteries before Kai is able to return, safe and sound. Will they keep the secret of the Seven Cities of Gold to themselves?