A customizable child goes to the zoo with his or her father.
As young readers open this app, they are asked to choose the name and gender of the main character and to choose an avatar (happily, a number of skin colors and ethnicities are provided, though none has explicitly Asian features). The story then uses this name and adjusts the illustrations to match. While this is nifty at first, it does not make up for the lackluster storytelling or interactive features. Some suspense is injected into the basic trip-to-the-zoo storyline when the main character hides in the zookeeper’s food cart, but essentially, this app is created to teach readers about different animals’ diets and habitats. The app does not provide any narration or touch-activated animated interactions. On each screen, readers may tap a star to learn more facts about the zoo animals, take simple quizzes about animals’ diets and sometimes hear recordings of animal sounds. The digital artwork is colorful but on the cold side, with only a few facial details. From the main screen, users can play more games—matching facts from the story to particular animals, the “feed the animals” quizzes from the story and a simple coloring game.
An enjoyable trip to the zoo? Readers would be better off going in person or exploring the many other options available in both print and tablet formats. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)