The Penguins of Madagascar is not really a book, but more like a whole suitcase of stories and activities to entertain your child for at least an hour, if not more. There are actually two stories in this iPad app, "Happy King Julien Day" and "Gone in a Flash". These stories were adapted from two episodes of a Nickelodeon television show created in 2010 and based on the same characters in the "Madagascar" movies.
There is also a third book, with 5 pages of jokes, and when all three are taken together, it amounts to almost 200 pages (counting page turns manually). On autoplay, the two stories lasted about 10 minutes a piece. There is no interactivity within the actual stories, so autoplay is a nice way to avoid all those page turns, too. The words also hightlight as read with the default narration (you can also record your own - although it would be quite a task to narrate all 200 pages).
And I haven't even begun to get to the games packed in with this title. There are five activities bundled with the three stories:
Create a Scene lets the child put digital stickers of the characters and other items on a template of three different scenes.
Spot the Difference has two short games, but there isn't much replay value for any spot the difference game unless the pictues change.
Maze is a choice of three mazes that you drag a little penguin through, so not a ton of replay value, but all three are hard enough to take some time.
Kaleidoscope is a cool little diversion that lets you put one of the characters in the lens of a kaleidoscope and spin it; this 'extra' is based on the app "Kooleido" and has a fun oldschool-meets-touchscreen quality to it.
Coloring Board is a coloring book with a setting that prevents you from coloring outside the lines, which I appreciate since coloring without a stylus is very difficult to control on a touch screen, even for an adult.
This book, like the other adaptations of DreamWorks popular computer-animated films, is well made and solid feeling, with easy page turn and lots of settings (to many to even list). Stability is important in a title with this many activities because apps that aren't stable tend to crash more easily with little hands tap-tap-tapping. A warning to parents of young kids, though. Be sure to supervise your child if you are concerned that they may play with the many settings. Some of them lead out of the app and into other programs on your iPad (like the appstore and email).
The stories themselves are fun, even for someone who hasn't seen the Madagascar movies. Each story has several animated video clips of short scenes from the TV episode of the same name. This helps keep little ones' attention easily despite the length of the stories. This book-tv-movie adaptation is perfect for keeping a child busy & happy for a very long time. And while I do like a good bedtime read, a title like this can be a godsend on a rainy afternoon, or a long car ride or even when I just need a moment to myself. So, if you are looking for an iPad book packed with activities, this one should definitely be at the top of the list.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
25 - 60 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 10 +
The two stories in this iPad book are adapted from two episodes of the "Penguins of Madagascar" TV show that was aired on Nickelodeon in 2010. Both stories in this digital book appear to follow the TV episode plot synopsis, pretty much word for word. I have pasted the full plot synopsis for both stories/episodes from TV.com.
Full Plot Synopsis of King Julien Day:
On a certain night at the zoo, the penguins and Marlene are all gathered around together discussing some things, but then Maurice comes in the building to make an important announcement! He says that in just a few hours, it will be a very special day! It would be wise and helpful if they could celebrate it too, and this day is none other than King Julien Day! It's a day where animals must appreciate him and do anything to make him happy and make him feel like his day was a success for the year!
However, the penguins and everyone else don't seem to be very interested in taking part of this celebration, but Maurice warns them that if King Julien is not happy, he will become very upset and freak on you terribly, as Maurice tells them "trust me, you do not want him to freak on you!" Maurice also coaxes them into the party by providing a very special gift for them once the party is over, and it is a pinata filled with delicious candy!
Now everyone is in, except for Skipper, who instead wants to work around his habitat making some adjustments and improvements, and also clean up the place. Now once the party starts, everyone must participate in all of these cool party-themed activites! One of these activities is Limbo! Everyone successfully slides under the limbo stick, even Rico, who got under by coughing up an anchor! Julien though shows them his superior Limbo skills by sliding under the stick at it's lowest!
Next acitivity is fruit throwing, Julien is throwing fruit at the animals and then splattered fruit is everywhere, and all of the solid fruits are coming every which-way! After that, everyone must now bake a delicious and satisfying cake for King Julien. Once the results are in, Marlene has a bug cake, and the chimps have a pineapple and boogers cake, and the penguins have a mud cake!
After Skipper comes back due to a careless accident with the cake landing on his head, he complains about it, King Julien looks like he is about to freak on them, except he just takes the mud cake back and declares the day a success! All of the animals are happy and relieved now, and are ready to feast on the candy from the pinata! King Julien takes it however because he thinks it is a present for him, which is a paper horse! Fortunately, he does come back and offers the horse's candy guts to everyone, and they all chow down until their hearts are content!
Full Plot Synopsis of Gone in a Flash:
This episode starts off with Maurice attempting to do a number of simple everyday things eating a sundae or relaxing on a lawn chair. However Julien constantly steals whatever he's doing. Suddenly a camera comes out of mid air and lands where they're arguing and the two fight over who keeps it. While fighting Julien accidently takes a picture, causing a huge flash. When everything settles Maurice is gone, and Julien mistakes a picture of him the camera accidently took as him. So he thinks that he's trapped in the camera, as a punishement for questioning him. The penguins try to convince him otherwise, however he does not listen. So they must find a way to "crack the mystery".
After a few failed ideas they find out what real happened: the flash made him fall and land in a trash can, causing him to be transported to the dump. So the hitch I ride there to find him. There they do find him, however he refuses to come back, because of King Julien's constant demands. Back at the zoo, Julien offers the "trapped" Maurice a piece of his banana, though unsurprisingly he dosen't accept it.
After some confincing, they escape the dump riding on some huge wheels. Then while they're walking on some train tracks Maurice says he can't walk any faster, but he ends up being able to after a train comes, and he must run or be squat! We then briefly see King Julien back at the zoo, as he finally breaks down, claiming he wants his buddy back. So he begins trying to get him out, attempting to break the camera open with a rock, but this ends up crushing poor little Mort instead.
On the final leg of their journey, Maurice must be launched by a bungee cord into the zoo. He's scared, and is released before his hemet can be placed on, making it dangerous. However he makes it safely, right in front of Julien. He ends up thinking the sky gods are what saved his friend, instead of anything truely logical. Skipper asks if he wants to tell him the truth, but he claims the number one rule is to never question the king. So the episode ends with everyone off to do their own thing, with Mort still under the rock!