Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JAMES & MAC by Cricket Design


developed by Cricket Design

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2013
Publisher: Cricket Design

With the appeal of a Saturday-morning cartoon, this app will draw in kids—but leave them wishing for more.

James wakes up one night as “a terrifying sound echoed through the air.” The next day, James discovers his mother in tears, for all of the carrots have been stolen from her vegetable garden, where James finds a monster’s footprints. With his trusty ferret’s help, James follows one clue after another to discover the culprit. Unfortunately, the logical connections among clues seem tenuous, and the odd sounds James hears at the beginning never are explained. The story progresses in animated chapters, only pulling the reader in to interact at isolated points. This puts the reader in a passive stance, like watching a cartoon. The illustrations evoke the goofy humor of Scooby Doo, but the pacing is more controlled and suitable to a storybook app. The app defaults to a text-free, voice-only presentation, but there is a pull-down option to show “subtitles” if children want to read along.

Certainly entertaining and visually appealing, but the mystery is resolved through chance rather than clear detective work. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)