Based on Mercer Mayer's original illustrations of the "Critter" family on a road trip, The Trip: Little Critter Reading Adventure, is truly just that - a reading adventure. While adults delight in the familiar characters and storyline, a whole new generation of Little Critter fans is virtually guaranteed with engaging apps like this one, created by Silver Dolphin Books.
Mayer originally wrote "The Trip" as an ABC style book in 1988 before its more familiar edition in 1997 that edited it down significantly. This app is based on the later edition, with wonderful enhancements that take young readers ages 2-6 on more than just a figurative adventure, by using a map and game-like approach. It also includes the ABC elements of the original title, using a series of alphabet flash cards that kids can collect by tapping on pictures within the illustrations.
Six additional games are bundled within the story arc based on the family's road trip path. These can interrupt the flow of the story (and comprehension), but do include a small 'skip' button in the upper right hand corner. You cannot skip the game elements that advance the story along, however, making for a unique kind of interaction. The story also has a 'choose-your-own-adventure' quality to it, since children can go through the book via several different 'road trip' paths. Readers need to figure out which item to choose for each scene to resolve the roadblock the family faces. For instance, when a horse is blocking the road, the child must choose the apple to get the animal to move. Items are collected along the way as the story is told
This ultimate summer ritual, the family road trip, makes a great backdrop for the simple plot, which is well suited to a map based game. Each page has the text of the story, which is read with highlighting for pre-readers. Characters can then be tapped to hear additional dialogue as well as instructions for things to find in each scene. Cartoon-quality animation and nicely tailored interactive elements round out this well-made app. Helpful hints are shown in a color-coded system that includes the ABC cards (red), items to collect (yellow) and special effects/dialogue (blue).
The Trip: Little Critter Reading Adventure also has ample and intuitive settings that young children will easily master in seconds. A "Just Read" section is available, too. It is simply a silent, un-enhanced digital version of the print book, making for a passable bedtime story option. This is much more of a "daytime" app in my opinion, though, since most young children will have a hard time resisting the main attraction, which is essentially a learning game involving a lot of reading exposure.
A "For Parents" section is available at the bottom of the title page that links to a promotional page with links to the web, social media & YouTube, along with ads for their extension game app. This extra protection from the commercial links is useful. It is odd, however, to have the logo for ">Silver Dolphin right next to this protected link, but with no protection - it is an automatic touchpoint to the web when brushed by little fingers. When I tapped it, I was able to stumble onto the publishers' twitter page in less than a second. Hopefully a fix in a future update can eliminate this link, since it is already present in the parents' section.
Overall, this app provides exceptional content and presents it in a polished, thoughtful way. As solidly built as this app is, however, there is still no getting around the fact that this is much more of an educational game than the typical, enhanced storybook app. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is useful for parents and educators to know that this 'reading' app includes a lot of game-like elements. There are fewer enticing opportunities to read without narration in this book compared to many other Little Critter digital titles. This app also contains a lot more content than a typical book app, and has great replay value.
The emphasis may be more on 'adventure' than 'reading' at times, but children will love learning with this app. The educational (and wholesome) focus makes it a reassuring choice for many parents. After playing with this book-game hybrid app, my child asked to read more paper Little Critterbooks, as well as the less enhanced eBooks in our digital collection. I recommend using apps like this to spark an interest in the whole series. It can whet a child's appetite for continuing a lifelong reading adventure.Highly Recommended.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The content of the rating/review 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.
Baker & Taylor, Inc.
4 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 2 - 6
In this fun-filled, interactive reading adventure, young children are invited to learn along with Little Critter on his family’s road trip. Rich in learning activities, games, and exciting surprises, kids will be entertained as they discover a new adventure on every page.
The Critters’ trip is full of amusing twists and turns—just like the actual road they’re following! Kids can help Little Critter choose the route the family will take and explore the countryside, the city, the beach and more: fix the car when it breaks down; move a horse stuck in the middle of the road; feed the seagulls; and even find time to grab a hot dog! All this while playing lots of games with Little Sister along the way to pass the time! Readers and non-readers of all skill levels will find entertainment in this interactive story adventure. “The Trip” reading adventure app emphasizes basic pre-school and early elementary curriculum.
Recommended for ages 3 to 7.