It’s a book. It’s a machine. It’s a book machine. Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats by Rocket Wagon is a beautiful and brilliant storybook app unlike any I have ever seen. It is a true story about a little girl who wished her Dad could stay home with her instead of having to go to work, so she cleverly designed a machine that she believed would make her wish come true. She knew that one reason her Dad had to work was so they could have food to eat and she thought that if she built a machine that could make food, then her Dad would not have to work anymore. This little girl is the daughter of the author and developer of this app. He realized that while they could not make the machine in real life, they could create it in a storybook app. Although the machine is only in virtual form, it may still make her wish come true.
Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats is a book and a machine all in one. The whole book is one giant machine. The navigation and menu options are part of the machine’s controls and are seen throughout the book. Switches are used to toggle the narration, music, and sound. There is also a switch to turn the presence of cats in the book on or off (this is where the “Plus Cats” comes from). Buttons are used to turn the pages and to navigate back to the home page. Every page has cranks, levers, switches, buttons, or gauges that children can use to operate the machine. The machine has many functions and every page highlights a function such as smashing, enlarging, shrinking, baking, painting, sorting, stamping, and of course making food.
This book is a gem. Besides having a heartwarming story and plenty of entertaining interactive objects, it also has excellent educational value. It encourages reading by using text highlighting and tappable words. It shows children how combining two primary colors creates a new color. It provides opportunities to teach children about how gears, levers, and switches work. It can be used to supplement lessons in mechanical force, weight, pressure, air pressure, vacuum, and temperature.
This book is a real hit with my daughter. She loves the story and has a lot of fun operating the machine. She relates well to the little girl in the story and tells me how much she wishes her Dad could stay home too. My son is equally mesmerized with all the gears, switches, and functions of the machine. He enjoys looking at the details and trying to figure out how the different parts work together. Perhaps he’ll come up with his own special machine too.
The only thing I could think of that I would like to see in a future update is a guide on how to operate the machine or guided play. It could come in the form of pop up arrows and pop up texts that explain what the switches do. Since not all children will need or benefit from this, the guided play should also be something parents and teachers turn on or off.
It’s not often that I find a storybook app that stands out like Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats. It is, in my opinion, an intelligent and must have app. I highly recommend this book, this machine, this book machine to anyone with kids because I am certain that they will love reading and operating it as much as my children do.
Our Highest Recommendation!
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 review was originally published by TheiMums.com on October 9, 2014. The iMums – Amanda, Alison, Mary and Grace – are four mothers from different parts of the world dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children. Founded in August 2011, the four iMums have 11 kids among them ranging in age from 1 to 17 and bring a global perspective to their app reviews.
The original iMum Amanda being from Australia, Alison is in America, Grace is from Singapore and Mary is from the UK but is currently living in America. Guest author Fides and her husband have been married for 16 years. They homeschool their 4 children: two amazing sons and two beautiful daughters. Author Fides and her husband have been married for 16 years. They homeschool their 4 children: two amazing sons and two beautiful daughters. Fides likes to walk and jog outdoors everyday and has as very difficult time resisting a slice of paradise cake.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Jon, Carrie, Corbett and Kalley Alexander
5 - 8 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 9 +
Based on a true story of childhood optimism, Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats is the super-fun interactive story about a 4-year-old girl’s drawing and her heartwarming plan to save her dad from his daily commute.
When Kalley shows her dad her drawing for a new machine, he is baffled by the confusing collection of hammers, gears, fire, smoke and conveyors. As Kalley explains each part of her invention, the drawing comes to life even as its overall purpose becomes less and less clear to her dad. It is only when Kalley explains the machine's final component that her master plan to keep her dad from commuting is revealed.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY
So, there really is a 'Kalley'. She really drew a machine. Her dad couldn't build it. So they made an app out of it instead.
Check out a video about it: http://youtu.be/vTvbELTaLzI
► PLAY WITH MACHINES!
Kalley's Machine was crafted with interactivity as the first priority. Satisfyingly touchable controls put kids in charge of each twist and smash of the machine. Controls come in a wide machiney variety:
With the machine, kids can:
● Smash Stuff
● Inflate Stuff
● Shrink Stuff
● Burn Stuff (or lightly toast it)
● Paint Stuff
● Grab Stuff
● Drop Stuff
● Mold Stuff Into Shapes
● Do A Few Other Things Including...
► MESS WITH CATS!
Kalley's Machine is a story based on a 4 year-old girl's drawing. As such, it includes cats. They are completely irrelevant to the story. However, they are way fun to harass.
Tease them. Scare them. Puzzle them. Adore them. We think you'll love the cats.
► GET YOUR READ ON!
Cuz it's a story, right? Of course, you can read the story the old-fashioned way. But, to aid new readers, we've also included two helpful interactive story features:
● Read-to-Me, narrated by Kalley and her dad with highlighted words.
● Touch-to-Read, where words are spoken when they are touched.
► TRY TO LEARN!
Honestly, this app is not designed to be educational. It is designed to be fun.
However, we'd get an 'F' in marketing if we didn't point out that the interactive medium offers kids great chances to explore some basic concepts which are both safer and less messy than their real-world alternatives. Creative parents may recognize the opportunity to discuss:
● Subtractive Color Mixing
● Pressure/Temperature Relationships
● Gear Ratios
● Air Pressure/Vacuums
● How Overcooking Can Burn Stuff
► KEEP KIDS SAFE!
We have made this app super-safe for kids by having:
● No Ads
● No In-App-Purchases
● Parental Gates in Our Parents Section
WARNING: This story makes a single use of the word "nonchalant". It was written in a moment of desperation to find a rhyme with the word "want." We realize that's a pretty poor excuse. We also realize that, in the way we used it, it really should have been "nonchalantly". It was just pretty sloppy all around. So, if you feel like a word that advanced has no place in a book for little kids, we completely understand. In fact, we mostly agree (except that it's so mind-crushingly hard to think of a contextually appropriate rhyme for "want"). And if that is going to wreck it for you, then we'll understand if you don't buy our story. Just don't buy it and get in there later and be like, "What is this 'nonchalant' business?!" We're having this talk now.