Boquitas: The Hunt for the Chupacabras is a really well crafted, interactive storybook app for iPad, bringing the traditional mythology of the chupacabra to devices in a way that is thoroughly modern and a lot of fun for children of all ages as well as adults. This app is also nicely bilingual, including both English and Spanish translations, wonderfully styled artwork, as well as interactions and music.
For those who do not know, a Chupacabra is a very dangerous creature, said to be legend as their existence has not been proven by science, with the first reported attack in Puerto Rico.
Chupacabras have the reputation for killing livestock and drinking their blood, so when, in this story, pet chicken Diva goes missing after some strange noises are heard in the woods, and there is a news report of chickens disappearing as a trend, sisters Candela and Cari try their best to find Diva in order to bring her back home. Mischief from these girls' brother and his friend, as well as further details of this sordid tale from their grandmother, further complicate this story as the girls head off into the woods to save Diva.
There is so much I really appreciate about this app. It is wonderfully colorful, with a bright and lively palette that I greatly enjoy. The look of these illustrations is highly stylized, reminiscent to me of the great, iconic cartoons created by Genndy Tartakovsky and include clever interactions that add richness, whit and whimsy to this pitch-perfect storybook application. The art direction here is perfectly realized as the reader's attention is focused in all the right places to further this story along, creating nice moments of suspense and great humor.
I also appreciate the quality of the interactions found here, as they often are used to have the characters pantomime the action being read about in this story, as well as other fun hotspots that are never random movements or noises, but add to the richness and style used within this app. It is also especially nice how a subtle highlighting of sorts is used to show readers where to tap, offering hints along the way, very nicely done and informative without being distracting. A personal favorite detail is how the kids make up missing posters for Diva, allowing readers to choose the drawing that looks most like this missing chicken - a memorable moment which is nicely representative of the humor throughout this terrific, interactive story.
This app contains great music that adds to this story's suspense as well as fun sound effects, but it is worth noting that this app is without narration. I think that the terrific look of this app in general would encourage reluctant readers a great deal as I can’t imagine children not being instantly engaged by the first peek at this application.
Although a great choice for grade school kids, this app can be enjoyed by those younger as well if this book is read to them, while keeping in mind that the details, although comical in nature involving the chupacabra, may not be appropriate for very young or sensitive children.
I also like the fact that although a well-done English translation is included, an emphasis on some included Spanish words and intonations within the English section makes one aware of the Spanish roots of this app as well as the myth of the chupacabra itself, adding some nice diversity to the U.S. iTunes store
This app was originally delivered in 3 parts, with part 2 and 3 to be delivered by free updates during the month of October. True to their word, the 3rd installment was recently offered via update. I enjoyed this ending as much as I did the rest of this story. There is a moment that the imagery used could conceivably scare children most sensitive, but I am happy to say humor prevails here with a conclusion that kids will find funny and satisfying.
I recommend this story to a wide range of audiences, especially nice as without narration, this app would be a great choice to get kids interested in reading on their own. This would make a nice Halloween app, but will defiantly be favorite any time of year.