From Graham Nunn, creator of the Larry Lizard series of apps, another interactive tale with a musical theme swings into young readers hearts. Each player in this 'jungle music school' has a different instrument and despite initial reluctance to practice with their teacher, they develop a sense of both rhythm and teamwork. In the end, they form a cohesive group and play an original tune called "Gorilla Band".
The enhancements in this title are both fun and well-paced for young readers ages 2-6. Nice highlighting is timed with the narration, word-for-word, including sing-along music video extras. Readers can get more into the story by tapping the characters for additional dialog. Thoughtful settings also allow adults to delay interactivity until the text has been read aloud. Extras include two songs, as well as a youtube video in-app link of the gorilla's dancing. A final extra is a brief but educational game that reinforces the connection between the sounds and names of each of the musical instruments featured, including: violin, drums, guitar, saxophone, piano, conga drums, double bass and the singer of the band. The tunes played are very catchy and will have children (as well as most adults) tapping along.
But no app is perfect ... there are several links that leave the app for parents to keep an eye on (although they are thoughtfully tucked behind a 3 second hold and parent info section). The image quality of the animation is a bit imperfect to the discerning eye, with slightly pixelated edges along the images, but this is likely a compromise to keep the app's size reasonable. My little boy, an expert beta tester, also noticed that the arm of one of the gorillas magically swings through a branch, a minor technical detail. These 3-D images are otherwise stunning, however. The computer animation also allows for subtle touches like perfectly timed shadows to match each character as they play.
I had the unique opportunity to see this tale, as a consultant for Wasabi during the app's development. I was very impressed with the thoughtful changes made along the way to focus on meaningful interactivity and educational value. Readers may not notice some of the best attributes of this storytelling experience precisely because they are done so well, seamlessly integrating the audience into the plot.
The interactive dialog in particular can extend the story for a deeper (and longer) reading experience, depending on the child's engagement. This makes for a well designed and immersive app experience, in a way that makes readers more like the driver of the story, rather than a mere page-turning observer. Gorilla Band is sure to have kids tapping along and rooting for the characters as they learn to identify musical instruments and the sounds they each make.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
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. Paid consultation was also provided in advance of distribution for beta testing and/or story development.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Wasabi Productions Pty Ltd
6 - 8 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 2 - 5 +
Building on the success & scenery of Ten Giggly Gorillas, which was 1 of just 5 finalists in the kids app category at the Publishing Innovation Awards in 2013 and awarded a QED seal of approval for Quality, Excellence, Design. Gorilla Band showcases an immersive, 3D jungle-world where cute gorillas learn to play various instruments and form a band.
Crafted with touch screens in mind, this story invites readers to play an active role in the narrative, delivering a sensory experience that is deeply engaging, entertaining and educational for early readers. Sure to delight and entertain for hours!