Jackie Junko and the Old Ship Yard is an app storybook about a mischievous young boat who wants to go on a dangerous mission across the water, like his father, but runs into more trouble than he bargained for. The world they inhabit reminds me of Pixar's Cars, except everything is a boat instead of a car. It is the first in a planned series of Jackie Junkie app-stories and it is iPad only.
What I like:
* The graphics are very, very good and unique. They are bright and colorful and give the feeling of interacting with a cartoon. Each page has water at the bottom so the reader can see what is happening under the boats. There are different fish and sea creatures, including my personal favorite, an octopus. The scenery of the boat's home, a city named Aberdeen, is loosely based on scenery found in Hong Kong.
* The narration and sound are good. There are interactions on each page with both the boats and what's in the water below them. The interactions are much nicer than in most apps as the reader can move things around and really play, giving it a better than 2D feel. No pressing on a cow to make it moo here.
* When the words are read by the narrator they are highlighted, which is a must. There is also an option to turn the music off, independent of the story being read aloud, and a page selection menu at the top of each page.
* We had two people test the app and both had technical issues. I experienced load times of 30+ seconds (even after restart) and Heather had some crashing problems.
* The problem Jackie finds himself in (being stuck between two bigger, abandoned boats at the Old Ship Yard) is a bit boring. I'm not sure why the authors went in that direction with an entire ocean of possibilities; it certainly could have been a more interesting conundrum. Not scarier, mind you, just more enjoyable. A boat of ridiculous pirates? A silly octopus that is hungry? A whirlpool?
* In a few spots, the animation seems incomplete. For example, when Jackie is saved from his predicament, the child can move the characters to simulate his friend, Ping, helping him, but the animation stops before he is completely pulled out from between the boats. Every child that uses this app will try several times to get him free, but it won't work. It would have been more fluid and enjoyable to let the child simulate saving Jackie.
* I wish it had a more direct message. I think the younger set benefit from something like "Jackie learned his lesson: Don't wander off from school and try to have an adventure without your parents." I don't think most kids connect what happens in a story to themselves otherwise.
* The vocabulary is rich, but the sentence structure is not. Many sentences seemed more like fragments: "They went past skyscrapers and mountains. Past busy boat yards and ships. They went under a bendy metal bridge." This is not a book meant for early readers, and I expect more complex sentence structure in picture books to be read to children.
I know developers work really hard to produce great apps and such work is obvious here, but the market seems to dictates a price of $1.99-$2.99; if they're going to do a series, adding mentions of the other titles and making the first one free at some point is a very good idea.
All in all, though, a good effort and I've got to give a big thumbs up for the graphics. Definitely worth having a look to see if it's something a child or class may like.
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.
This guest review was originally published by SmartAppsforKids.com on February 27, 2014. The author of this review is the site's founder, Ron Engel, who had no idea what The Bachelor TV show was about until last night. Today, he mourns humanity's loss of dignity. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee for this review.
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Aneesha Lowni/Arash Lowni
10 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 9 +
Jackie Junko and The Old Ship Yard is a story about a little boat on an adventure that goes just slightly wrong! The landscape in which Jackie lives in is rich and engaging with beautiful mountainous backdrops that sit neatly around the waterways that he lives in.
As the story unfolds you meet quirky animals and many friendly boats. You are taken to Jackie’s school, you meet his teacher and classmates, and in particular you are introduced to his best friend and sidekick Ping. Together, they take themselves on a slightly dubious adventure where Jackie gets into a small spot of bother. Thankfully Ping is on hand to help him out!
• 15 pages of glorious story telling
• Interactive touch points so you can freely engage with the story and its characters
• Tap on the boats to make them bob up and down
• Tap the fishes to make them move and change direction
• Interact with other creatures: octopus, owl, parrots, spider, whale and many more
• ‘Read To Me’ and highlighted word function to help the emerging reader
• Embedded soundscapes and background music creating a full ambient experience
• Engaging and exploratory map style page menu.