Kodee’s Canoe - Echo is a delightful interactive story about two friends who venture out to where they believe a strange voice is originating from. Also included is an animated introduction of a very high quality that children and adults will really enjoy.
I have often been critical of the look of computer-generated imagery used within children’s applications, so it is nice to showcase an application using CGI technology that does a wonderful job of making an utterly appealing app that children of all ages and their adults will love, with included lovely narration - all of which remind me of elements of a family favorite show, Pocoyo.
This is the story of two animal friends, Kodee and Raccoon, who are curious to see where a mysterious voice from the island near their lake is coming from, as these voices only answer the questions such as “Who are you?” with the same question, peaking the interest of these curious animals who take a canoe to the island seeking out these voices.
The resolution seen here is very fine, creating an environment where hard edges are not necessary and where shadowing techniques are used to create depth and a world where a perfect sphere can be found - not simply the polygonal shapes found in lesser resolution applications.
The use of color is great fun to look at, as are all the natural details presented - the trees, animals and reflections that one can see in the water from the lake. Ambient nature sounds can be heard which are peaceful and relaxing, as are the included interactive hotspots one can find, tapping the auxiliary animals, which make them move or make sounds.
These types of interactions are pretty typical for an interactive storybook and are often included as an afterthought to be able to claim some type of interactivity by adding visual and audio that often adds clutter to a storybook.
I do love, however, the use of tappable animals found in Kodee’s Canoe. The animal sounds used are relaxing and very realistic, such as the ability to tap a bird to see her fly around the page as she makes her bird calls, as this is a sound I know well as I see and hear these birds from time to time, creating a very realistic world in which these characters live.
Although animated applications are nothing new to me, I simply can’t stop tapping to watch these characters move because for me, when the resolution is at it's finest texture like here, the images take on a life of their very own.
There are some very interesting moments where I really enjoy the placement of what would be the camera, such as the view looking down onto the island Kodee and Raccoon take their trip to, as they walk around the perimeter looking for the voice to meet up with on the other side, or the watery view of the fish who live in the lake that Kodee and Raccoon paddle through on their canoe on the way back home.
Adults will probably know that Kodee and Raccoon are hearing their own echo before children will, but this is a very enjoyable story for all with a nice sense of mystery and suspense without any elements that could remotely be perceived as worrisome to children, nicely including some science in a way that can be accessible to children, always a nice touch.
This app also includes an echo generator where one can record a sound that plays back with an echoing sound.
This feature did not work very well for me as my recording does tend to cut out while in playback, possibly because of our iPad case, a piece of hardware we struggled to put on and therefore did not want to remove.
Even with this extra not working as well as one might hope, the terrific look of this story, fun adventure, charming details and nice depiction of friendship and science topic make this app a worthy choice for a download.
I am also very happy to see a menu of pages easily within reach of readers, as well as numbered pages - a detail that I feel is important but often overlooked in storybook applications.
An explanation of how an echo works is also included, but I was disappointed to see that this section does not include narration, nor does one have a chance to record one's own voice reading this interesting, educational text - not the case with this storybook itself, as one can record, save and play back up to three personal narrations within.
It nice, however, that one can follow along with the text as it is highlighted when listening to excellent included narration, also having the option of tapping individual words to hear them spoken, a great help for young readers.
I do wish that this explanation was narrated as well, as my son and other pre-readers can enjoy this app on their own, but without reading ability, the science behind this app will not be fully explored.
Better yet, I would love to see the information of where the echo comes from was explained within the body of this application as part of the ending of the story, as readers, having followed this fun and engaging story, would have absorbed this information as well.
Even with this note, Kodee’s Canoe is an app that I strongly recommend for its sense of style, charming storyline, and overall high production value. I do hope to see more stories about Kodee and Raccoon as their world is beautiful as it is engaging.