Gary is a gopher with a keen desire to set out on his own in this adorable storybook app written by Rick Walton. Created with Kwiksher, this title is illustrated by Will Terry, a talented artist and articulate blogger about the artist's journey into digital publishing at willterry.blogspot.com. Readers can also see Terry's art in the suspenseful and nearly wordless book app, Monkey & Croc (one of my personal favorites).
On the first page of this app, we meet Gary and his parents. [Note: Readers must tap each character to start the narration, but after this page it starts automatically.] Gary's parents think their underground home is comfy and cozy, but Gary says it's crowded. “Then it's time,” they say, “to get a place of your own.” Gary sets out to do just that, tunneling near the pond to create a labyrinth of rooms. The detail in the artwork is delightful, featuring every little thing a gopher could need and many things he doesn't need, like a gameroom and private home theater with separate concession stands.
As much as I loved the story arc and details of each new room, the story does drag on a bit in the middle, although my 7-year old had no complaints. Fun but subtle interactive elements are present on nearly every page, including several delightful scenes between pages where Gary “digs and digs and digs,” before turning up in a new room of his ever expanding home. Most of these elements are not essential to the plot, but they are engaging, seamlessly integrated into the book and rarely distract unnecessarily.
Young readers can choose “Read Myself” or “Read to Me” with nice narration that highlights word for word. A credits page is included but there are no links that leave the app, ads or in-app purchases, making this an ideal app to share with children of all ages. Page turning is by simple arrows at the bottom corners of each screen and there is a page guide expected in the next update to improve navigation, according to the developer.
Overall, Gary's Place is a great addition to any child's digital bookshelf, with a solid story, beautiful illustrations and polished enhancements. The ending is also lovely, letting readers see a cutout view Gary's entire 'estate' before he decides to settle into a more modest abode. Young readers will enjoy the expressive animal characters, while learning a good life lesson about independence and managing your resources well.
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.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Rick Walton/Will Terry
Jack Pot Industries LLC
8 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8 +
The story of a gopher who gets tired of living with his parents in their tiny hole and strikes out to build his own hole -but Gary catches the building bug and can't stop building more and more rooms until a disaster destroys all his hard work. [From iTunes]