Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country
By Selma Mariudottir
Recently there has been some twitter chatter on what components educators and parents want to see in interactive books for their mobile devices. Of the books that we have reviewed or previewed, there are a number of developers that have “hit the mark”. In our opinion, an interactive mobile device book “hits the mark” when their story makes a personal connection to one’s life, sparks conversation, incorporates the development and love of reading, establishes some form of independence and is a book that keeps children, young and old, coming back for more. Recently a new series, Perky Pranksters was brought to our attention from developer and writer, Selma Mariudottir. This series of books was designed for children ages 4-9 years old, as it takes 3 of the most unusual friends to various geographical locations while dealing with life in general. Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is the first within the series that is now available for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later. In reading the developers website we learned that our cartoon main characters; Genie, Dapper and Rex are not only stars in a book, but they are also real stars in Selma Mariudottir’s home. Her four legged friends have become the inspiration for this series with their daily adventures and pranks. Come see what mischievous things they could get themselves into while visiting the country.
As most of us know, cats and dogs typically do not get along. If these two species set eyes on each other, a whole lot of running is going on, with the dog usually chasing after the cat. Interestingly enough, the main characters of Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the County are two cats, Genie & Dapper and Rex is their dog companion. They are far from afraid of each other in this series, rather other animals should be afraid of what might happen when all three are in the same location. Genie is considered the principal prankster, although fun loving, is always up to some kind of mischief and tends to learn things the hard way. Dapper is the well-mannered feline, who at times does get involved with some tricks. Then there is Rex, who looks just like Lassie. Rex is a sweet addition to the family and book series who tends to be interested in everything.
Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is an interactive and creative book that is chock full of good things. As we reviewed it, we would compare it to a chapter and activity book in one. Your child’s experience can occur in a variety of ways. Even before the story begins, come have some fun with Genie, Dapper and Rex, as users will be given opportunities to: Color, Play Dress Up, learn a little Musical Fun, play Rhyming Games and Record their Voices.
Coloring Book: gives users the option of five black and white pages which are scenes from the book that they can color. Once a scene is chosen it will appear on their virtual easel with an available paint palette as well. In addition, users have access to three thickness types of paint brushes. Pictures created can be saved to your photo gallery by simply clicking the camera icon at the top of the page. The green light bulb will indicate which items/objects are tapeable. While painting if a mistake occurs simply shake your device to erase your entire page. A note to the developers – might it be possible to include another option for erasing through an icon at the top. At times only one things needs to be erased and some users may become frustrated that they have to start all over.
Dress Up Games: gives users the opportunity to put their silliness to the test. Choose to dress up one or all of our fury friends. After you have chosen which prankster to dress up, select those articles of clothing and accessories that you would to see on them. It’s like playing real world paper dolls all over again! A note to the developers – might it be possible to interchange articles of clothing and accessories between characters. It might be interesting to allow users to scroll through the options and once simply drag and drop it place. Once complete, save and print your animal paper doll to provide for an extended period of play time outside of the book.
Musical Fun: shares with users practical information on musical families, particularly the brass family. Come hear what 5 musical voices sound like from the sounds of a tuba. This is a very quick game as it only presents one family. In a future update, it would be great if another family or two was added to spark the learning of those with a musical ear.
Rhyming Games – ABC: as users read Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country, they will notice how the writer incorporated many forms of rhyming. This game reinforces such word findings as a matching game. The only addition that I would implement would be the option to hear those directions in the large green box at the top of the window. By adding this, it will support learners of all styles. If the correct rhyme is chosen, users will be presented with a musical reward. In order to continue rhyming, simply click the arrow at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
The last fun and games option is the ability to Record Your Voice. This gaming feature seemed a bit out of context for this section. However, could have a great deal of potential while reading the book. If a reader has chosen to Read it Myself, it would be interesting to support their learning with a microphone on each page which would play back their voices to indicate a readers fluency or areas of difficulty.
The storyline behind the Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is very amusing and educational. The story can be narrated by Debbie Irwin, a parent or even your child. Pages are filled with two verses that incorporates text that rhymes on each picture along with running text at the bottom. If choosing to read alongside the narrator, words will be highlighted so as to keep the reader focused. As we reviewed this interactive book we equated it like being a chapter book. Follow along with our fury pranksters as they explore the country in seven entertaining comedy of errors. It’s like watching Abbott & Costello the animal version. A note to the developers – because the device needs to be vertically positioned, the pages do appear rather busy. Might it be possible to have the two verses at the top disappear once they are read.
Overall, we loved this first book in the series and are excited to see where our four legged pranksters will take us next. If you would like to learn more about Selma Mariudottir, please visit her website here. For a simple $3.99 download to your iTunes account, you too can begin building your Perky Pranksters library of books by simply clicking here.
This review is featured on Fun Educational Apps site along with many other detailed reviews.