A skim across the solar system serves as a framework for a set of elementary matching and counting games.
A grandfatherly narrator invites children to pick a planet from a tappable menu of nine images with fact boxes (the sun is not included in the tour; Pluto is called a “dwarf planet”). Readers then drag a three-piece rocket together, blast off and pause in low orbit for a live-action video clip of astronauts at work or play. On the way to the chosen destination and a video-only digest of basic facts, opportunities await to blast asteroids in numerical order, count aliens’ legs, sort floating stuff into labeled bins and other fun. Significantly, the video/fact screens feature a prominent “Skip” button, but the games do not, indicating that the latter are the main event. So rigid is the design that the trip is the same whether the destination is Earth or Pluto, though the games played on the way may vary. The 10 games can supposedly be customized according to user level, but what that seems to mean is that individual exercises can be turned on or off. The mix of cartoon scenes, space photography, video and space art blend reasonably well, and children who do not skip the videos could well pick up a fact or two.
Children hoping for a substantive tour of the solar system may be disappointed, but those who click with the games should build some skills. (iPad informational/math app. 6-8)