Although I purchase a lot of games for my son to play on the iPad, I also try to use it as a learning tool as much as possible. This means getting my hands on as many interactive storybooks and other educational apps as possible. One of the latest books we’ve tried together is called Cozmo’s Day Off. It is produced by Ayars Animation, the same folks that brought us the Jack and the Beanstalk interactive book, and was offered to me as a free download. That will in no way influence my opinion here; the following impressions are based on my own thoughts as well as my 8-year-old son’s.
First, the description from the App Store…:
Experience an interactive storybook that is out of this world! Join Cozmo in his adventure across the stars, and enjoy games and activities along the way.
★Over 100 Unique Audio and Animated Interactions
★Customize Narration with Your Own Voice
★Have Fun Using the Voice Pitch Control
★Games and Activities
…and a screen shot of the first page of the book:
And now onto the review.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the quality of the illustrations. I have seen a LOT of these children’s books, and some of the artwork is just not that appealing. But in Cozmo’s Day Off, each page features a beautiful illustration that is chock-full of details. Plus, as the above description mentioned, there are over 100 interactions throughout the book. My son loved tapping away at every object on the screen, hoping to see it come to life and do something funny. With 100 interactions in a 10-page book, there are obviously plenty of things to try!
The second thing I noticed is that the story is pretty decent. I mean, it’s hard to tell a complete story in just 10 pages and make it interesting for kids, but I think this one works. Each page has between two and four rhyming lines that tell how Cozmo gets from his home to his job. I think that amount of text is perfect for this age group (4+), as it allows the story to get told, but doesn’t bog kids down too much.
On the educational side of things, I really appreciate that when the auto narrator is on, the interactions don’t work until AFTER the text on the page has been read. This forces kids to listen to the story instead of just tapping away looking for the “fun stuff”. As a parent, this sort of detail is very important to me.
I also like that the text gets highlighted as the narrator reads, which makes it easier for my son to follow along. (One slight quibble about the feature, though, is that I think it would be more effective if single words were highlighted instead of the whole line.) And of course, there’s the fantastic feature that allows us to record ourselves reading the text. Kids — especially my son — LOVE this kind of thing. As developing readers, I think it’s critical that they hear their own reading like this, and I’ve gotten my son to do several recordings. Now he listens to himself almost exclusively, which is just fine by me.
My son liked this app, and thought most of the interactions and animations were fun. The one thing he didn’t like was the game on Page 4. He said it went on too long, and that it was too easy in the beginning, but then became WAY too hard before the end. I haven’t tried that game myself, but I’ll take his word for it.
Anyway, Cozmo’s Day Off by Ayars Animation is definitely an interactive book that I would recommend buying. It costs $3.99 at the App Store, and I think that price is appropriate for what the book contains. At 8 years old, I think my son was perhaps a bit old for this one, but he still enjoyed it. I think younger children would have even more fun with it, so if your kids are in the 4-6 or 4-7 range, go check this one out! (A “Lite” version is also available if you just want to try it before you buy.)