Picky Kid Rating: 3.2
Moving Christmas is a wonderfully illustrated story about moving Santa’s workshop and village from the North Pole to the South Pole due to global warning. The environmental message is reinforced a couple of times, but is pretty much lost on preschoolers, who are much more interested in (of course!) Santa. We were expecting a more interactive experience — this app is more like an e-book, but the story, illustrations, and subject matter kept us interested, at least.
The app/book is straightforward to play. After a fairly slow load sequence, you’ll come to a home screen that serves as a title page. Tap the arrow in the lower right to start. This arrow is the way you’ll navigate forward through the story (you can’t navigate back as easily).
There are a few settings (music, sound effects, and narration) that you can access from the home page, or any page in the story by tapping the settings icon in the Christmas decoration at the upper right. Once you’re reading the story, you can also pause by tapping the pause button beneath the settings icon, or navigate to any page in the book by tapping the bookmark icon in the top left.
The story is relatively engaging, as Santa enlists the help of friendly, but questionably competent, mover Frank Duffy to move his village, workshop and all the toys from the melting North Pole to the more environmentally stable South Pole. As Santa puts it, Frank Duffy has been on the nice list every year, while many humans are on the naughty list — those are the ones who’ve caused the pollution to melt the North Pole.
As Frank Duffy, Santa, Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer attempt to make the move, they encounter several adventures and setbacks, but they do finally make it to the South Pole, with only a day to spare before Christmas. There’s a final hitch though, as the reindeer are too tired to fly all around the world again, and Frank Duffy must do some creative thinking to finally save Christmas.
Although it seems the authors intended the main message of this story to be an environmental one, the takeaway for younger kids is “believe in yourself” — something Frank Duffy has to do in the face of multiple challenges. It’s difficult because one of Santa’s elves is quite negative and mean to Duffy, calling him names and regularly heckling him. You don’t want your kid modeling this behavior, so you may want to preview this story before sharing it.
A few pages of the story have interactive elements — small things you can tap to get more information or see special animations. These are not integral to the story, and B has pretty much ignored them, even getting annoyed when I try to point them out to her. Kids who are accustomed to scenes in which everything is tappable may be disappointed that this book doesn’t do that, but the lack of interactive elements keeps the story going.
The writing has some references that young children won’t understand (e.g. Area 51, fear of public toilets, needing an egg nog to deal with stress), but this makes it more interesting for adults, as long as you don’t mind having to explain some things. In general, the writing is pretty good, and the narration, a male voice in American English, is great.
The illustrations in this story are wonderful, and the text on each page is also designed and animated. There is no text highlighting though,so this story doesn’t really help kids learn to read. For young kids there’s not a lot of education value here. Older kids could learn about the causes and effects of pollution by reading the interactive info screens that appear when you tap the recycling symbol that appears sporadically in the upper left of the screen (there’s no narration for these). But mostly this app plays like a storybook.
Bottom line? This is a fun and fantastically illustrated alternative story for Christmastime. We’d suggest it for kids who have the attention span to listen to the entire book (about 20 minutes), and who can identify the mean elf’s behavior as wrong. School-aged children may get even more out of it.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Moving Christmas iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- Trusted Cape