App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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The Mud Monster is a beautifully crafted universal interactive storybook written and illustrated by Chantal Bourgonje. This is the simple, gentle story of a diverse group of three animal friends who go on an adventure together, roaming around until they find a boat, cast a line, and catching a clam-like shell with a great interest in who may be hiding within. The reveal of the Mud Monster made me smile. He turns out to be a friendly creature who loves to splash and dance with his new friends until it is time to go home where he re-enters his shell and is placed back into the sea where he belongs.
Young children will especially enjoy the level of suspense as the gang waits for the reveal of what may be inside the shell, and I am happy with how charming the Mud Monster is. Although he is a unique creature, they all become fast friends until it is time to go home, making this a lovely story with themes such as tolerance relatable to the youngest children. The look of this app is quite beautiful - lush with color, hand-crafted illustrations, and mild animated moments. This app, like the other apps by Bourgonje, is truly an arts app for children and their adults. The visual quality is top-notch in every way and I really enjoy how this story is told with two separate versions, each with a unique sense of style and slight but effective interactions.
Version one includes a very special use of watercolors rich with the perfectly imperfect marbled, water-marked effect that one can see on faintly textured paper. While a white background may be incorporated within the first version of this app, the second version of this application includes a use of paper art and tactile bursts of texture and color that are bold as well as beautiful and also include an interesting use of text found within these images, adding elements of mixed media as well - details not to be ignored.
I would also like to make note of the thoughtful choice of including both Dutch as well as narrations with both British and American English. I really appreciate these choices because the American version of this app is more pleasing to my American ear, but I am glad that families from many areas have these options as well. The Mud Monster is a circular story without a specific ending - an interesting choice, but I find that once a reader hits the true end of this story the pages seem to flip backwards and I honestly thought this was a glitch. I would prefer the transition into the circular nature of this tale to be more seamless. It would also be nice if an option for a traditional ending were available after the friends' sea adventure as the lack of an end point makes this app less friendly to nap time or bedtime because, in theory, this app could go on indefinitely.
Even having said this, The Mud Monster is a very polished, charming story that adults will enjoy sharing with their children. The quality of the artwork found within is a delight, as is the included music and optional narrations. Do check the options of this app to further personalize the listening experience with the choices of highlighting or enlarging the words when spoken, as well having Auto play as an option - always a nice touch.