A feature-rich app for kids around the world about other kids from around the world in which the main story is outshone by abundant extras.
In a series of simple pencil-and-crayon drawings, scenes of children from all over the Earth serve to illustrate how they are all alike in fundamental ways. “All us kids like to dance,” one page reads, while another showing kids watching a 3-D movie says, “And we all like to observe.” The main story features narration read by children, and it fits the app’s homemade vibe. The narrative part of the app has no menus beyond a home button—only an ongoing swiping method of navigation. This would be fine, in a less-is-more app. But when readers scope the app’s other features, like a set of five games, a painting tool, and a remarkably robust and simple-to-use database of different world cultures as they relate to children, they may feel as if the main story was an afterthought. For instance, when a child in China is shown banging a gong, no gong sounds. That sound effect is used in one of the extra-feature games but not in the story itself, an odd, self-defeating choice.
There’s a lot to recommend about the app, including that database. That could have been the star attraction instead of a narrative that feels incomplete. (iPad storybook app. 2-7)