Friday, June 22, 2012

The Rooster Who Lost His Voice

The Rooster Who Lost His Voice was created by iMagine machine, LLC. This is a great example of how some apps are really starting to blur the line between whether it's a book or a show. Rooster is definitely a story, told in a folktale kinda way - but it doesn't have any text and is 18-minutes long, putting it in a category all on its own Price: the initial 3 pages are free, but to purchase the full "book" is $4.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: This is a well-done story with great graphics and effects. On the spectrum of book to show/movie, this leans heavier on the show/movie side. One of the few book feature is the tone of the story is told like a classic tale, not like a tv show or movie. And while some scenes advance on their own, there are moments where the child must "turn the page". But even this is not the typical swipe, it's pulling a rope, like you would to close or open the curtains to a stage show. This little pull feature along with very limited interactive features is just enough to make sure kids are still paying attention and not just passively watching a show. The main interactive feature is I guess comprehension questions. Kids have to choose what "gift" they think the characters are giving. I like this "active thinking" idea, and I think it's an important feature to have especially in this format, but I think there could be more feedback here. The picture options at least need a label as they are not always obvious what they are. And the answers require background knowledge not given by the story so a little reinforce/feedback would be nice to make sure kids "got it". 

So, since there is no text here, is this as "literacy-focused" as a book? Are apps like this one even meant to be thought of as "literacy-focused"? There is no doubt that listening and I guess in this case, watching a story has great value. I guess I'm just wondering where do we draw the line - do we need to? Rating: 4/5 (aim for around 5 years)

Balance: The developers really kept it simple here in terms of interactivity, but I don't think they lost anything in terms of engagement. Not sure where to put this, but one feature I'd like to see added would be a page menu or something. 18 minutes can be a bit long for a story - depending on the situation, and there's no way to jump to a certain page - you start from the beginning each time. Actually, mine froze once, and I had to just scroll through everything again to get to where I was. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: I think it's a cute story kids would keep coming back to. It'd be great if the questions switched up a little so that kids don't already know all the answers if it's a repeated reading.  Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: So without the text, it kinda takes away that co-reading experience that books automatically give. But perhaps this will free up the parents to elaborate on the story and provide some  "active thinking" prompts that could go along with the comp questions. Rating: 3/5

Total: 15 out of 20 = 4 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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