Picky Kid Rating: 3.1
Who Stole the Moon is a calm and beautifully illustrated storybook and activity app where our protagonist, a boy named Bertie, tries to find out (you guessed it) who stole the moon when it’s no longer visible through his skylight. The app includes a story, four games/activities, and eight different songs. It packs in a lot, but young toddlers may get discouraged by its complexity and technical issues, read on!
When you first start the app, you’ll come to an interactive title screen. Most elements on the screen will respond to your tap or drag — have a bit of fun exploring before moving on! There are two options to tap: a settings button in the lower left, and an arrow button in the lower right. Tapping the right arrow will bring you to the start page, where you can select what you’d like to do. This feels like an extra step — the options from the title screen and the start screen could easily be combined onto one screen.
At any rate, the start screen allows you to select an activity by tapping a colored balloon. The choices are: Read, Games, About and Songs. All are labeled very clearly in text, but kids who cannot read the words have a hard time figuring out what to do. B is finally starting to remember which color ballon to tap for which activity, but this screen could be improved with some more visual clues for children. It could also be improved by removing or de-emphasizing the About choice — the About area contains a lot of links to external web sites, which are not protected by any parental controls. Strangely enough, none of the links actually work (all go to a web page that says “No database selected”), even the ones to Facebook and Twitter. If you’re following along, and want to exit the About area, tap the back arrow in the bottom left of the screen.
From the home screen, tap the yellow balloon to start the story. The story will be narrated in English by default, but you can turn off narration or change the language in the settings if you’d like. (Settings are accessible via the gear icon near the lower left of the screen.) Every page has some interactive elements that you can find by tapping, but in general, they aren’t integral to (and sometimes not even related to) the story. Advance the story manually by tapping the forward arrow in the lower right.
The animals encountered in the story have accompanying songs. You can listen to the song by tapping the music note icon near the top right of the page. While you’re listening, you’ll be watching a phonograph (B thought it was a flower) and a little line drawing animation with written lyrics. The songs are available in English only, and they’re fairly pleasant, though long enough to interrupt the flow of the story. When you’re through with a song, you’ll need to tap the back arrow to get back to the story. The page you came from will replay, which seems a bit odd, since you already heard it.
The story is more substantial than some book apps we’ve seen; there are 22 pages in all. We won’t give away the secret of who actually stole the moon (Bertie suspects it may have been the hedgehog, the fox, the skunk or the mole), but in the end, all is resolved. It would be nice if there were a “the end” page or voiceover. Instead, after the last page of the book, you’ll see a screen encouraging you to rate or review the app (the link doesn’t work). Or you can tap the home icon in the lower right to go back to the home screen with the balloons.
Tapping the red balloon from the home screen will take you to the Games menu. There are four different games to choose from:
- Memory Match: A classic card-flipping memory game with nine different games in three different levels (12 cards, 16 cards, or 36 cards).
- Dragonfly Catch: Try to tap as many dragonflies as you can in 30 seconds as they fly around the screen.
- Puzzles: Put together jigsaw puzzles created out of illustrations from the story. There are sixteen different pictures, and each comes in a 25-piece or 64-piece version.
- Coloring: Color sixteen different drawings with 8 different brushes and lots of colors. You may save them to your Photos if you allow access to the iPad’s photo library. If you don’t allow access, you’ll get a popup error message.
Luckily, it’s easy to pick which game you want — each game has an icon that kids can easily decipher! All activities except for coloring have some sort of scoring system. For example, puzzles are timed, and the dragonfly game keeps track of how many dragonflies you tapped. However, there’s no record of scores, or indication that you earned a certain level for a certain score, so the scoring system seems a bit pointless.
From any game, you can navigate back to the game selection screen by tapping the back arrow in the lower left. It may take a couple of screens, depending on how deep you are, but eventually, you’ll get there (or to the home screen). Also, from practically any screen in the app, you can access the settings by tapping the gear icon near the lower left.
The settings allow you to change the language of the story, the written prompts and the narration. There’s an impressive selection of sixteen languages to choose from! (Interestingly, the French narrator doesn’t follow the script precisely.) You can turn narration off if you’d like to read the story yourself. You can also turn background music off, select a page in the story, or attempt to go to a bunch of links that don’t work (the same problem as the links on the about page).
Our favorite thing about this app are the wonderfully rich illustrations in the story. We also like the background music, which is dreamy and calm without being too ethereal. In addition to that, the wide range of activities makes Who Stole the Moon a relatively rich experience. The app’s weak points are its dependency on reading for navigation (we didn’t discuss the Songs activity, but it also uses text only to identify different songs), un-protected links out of the app (which don’t work anyway), and its instability… we’ve had it completely crash several times.
Overall, Who Stole the Moon offers a lot of engagement in a calm storybook app with gorgeous illustrations and some diverse activities, but is difficult for kids to use (the vertical format can be difficult to for small hands as well as the issues mentioned above). Most issues would be relatively easy to solve, so let’s hope for an update!
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Who Stole The Moon? iPad App,
Who Stole the Moon?
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- Windy Press