“This is Nino and he has a big problem at bedtime… / He is afraid of the dark.”
The app begins predictably but colorfully, offering readers red glowing buttons to push and puzzles by which to discover the names of the creatures alluded to in the title. Readers meet Nino’s Robot Hero and see how his “justice ray” can put any monster on the run. Robot Monkey’s “meteor punch” is just as effective in the monster-clearing department. But Nino’s problem escalates when the Dark Night, the monsters’ boss, comes banging on the door. The robots will need help. When readers enter the correct code in time, all the robots’ friends show up to help. A big fight ensues, or so it seems, and just when the Dark Night is about to “explode,” Nino yells, “Don’t do it Dark Night!” This begs the question, “Do what?” Which, it turns out, isn’t much at all, as in the end, the fracas is revealed to be a party. While this accurately reflects children’s imaginative play, it’s unlikely that this app’s target audience will be able to see their own behavior in this sudden turnabout. On the positive side, the whimsical animation and action, along with well-timed sound effects and engaging narration, will pull along youngsters who don’t worry much about story logic. The app is also available in Portuguese.
The universal “afraid of the dark” theme takes a rather confusing turn, but all those buttons to push may keep readers so busy they won’t notice. (iPad storybook app. 4-9)