Doris and the Dragon Tree is an exceptionally cute and engaging story about a little girl with a big imagination. One day she finds a tiny seed pit on the playground and decides it might be from a dragon. She plants the seed and waits for it to grow, which takes a very long time. Her little sister is skeptical at first, but soon branches appear with tiny 'dragon' buds. The dragons grow, eating up everything in the family's refrigerator and making mischief with their smoky dragon farts.
There is no question that this is a winning story, well crafted and accompanied by lovely narration (although it does not highlight). The illustrations are also fun, with a combination of hand drawn images mixed with photographs. I thought that this looked a bit unpolished, but it was one of the things my first grader liked most, pointing out the 'real' cat and other photos. The app also has a nice array of settings, including easy navigation with a thumb-nail page guide at the bottom. It is solidly made using Kwiksher, although very simply constructed without any interactive or animated elements.
The text is a bit too small, however, and contains a lot of long, complex sentences. In fact, it is much longer than a picture book, comparable more to a text heavy chapter book. When I ran a sample of the text through a variety of reading level calculators, I found that it was suited for a child at a 3rd-6th grade reading level, although the characters and story seemed ideal for a younger audience. Doris is a Kindergartner, for instance, with a younger sister preschool aged. This odd mix of a long narrative with large sections of small text (in addition to the lack of highlighting or interactive elements) made this a difficult book for my child to sit through until I read it aloud with him.
However, this is such a great story idea. The ending is a bit abrupt, leaving the reader wondering what will happen when the dragons eventually 'ripen' and fall off their tree, but even without additional editing, the storytelling is very good. The dragon tree idea has also been great for talking to my child about writing his own stories, with his own very big imagination. It could be a useful tool in the classroom, to inspire children for writing assignments. Having questions for discussion, writing prompts or other curriculum tie-ins would be a nice addition. Ultimately, the plot & writing in Doris and the Dragon Tree was so engaging, that both my child and I enjoyed the story enough to make up for the challenges.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The review's content is the same, but timing of publication has been prioritized.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Rats on Cats Publishing Handelsbolag
14 - 16 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 5 - 9 +
Doris is a little girl who finds an interesting looking seed one day and decides to plant it. She patiently waits for the seed to grow, but it takes a very long time. Then one day there is a sprout that grows into a tall tree with branches but no leaves. Eventually small green buds appear on the tree. When she looks at them under a magnifying glass, she can see that the buds are actually tiny dragons.
The dragons grow very quickly and are very hungry, eating everything in the house that she offers them, especially meat. They also fart a lot, causing the smoke detector to go off. At the end of the story, Doris' little sister asks, "Are the dragons going to hang from the branches forever?"