Sneaky Sam is a cute and fun universal interactive storybook about a mischievous young boy.
I am quite pleased by how this application creates a vintage look using elements such as distressed paper or wood grain background, includes a red, yellow and blue palette of colors and illustrative style which create a lovely period style of years past which I appreciate a great deal. Even the font used for the text and the yellow highlighting when read create a vintage feel that makes me smile.
Fun interactions will also charm young children who get to read this book with the use of included narration or listen to this book read out loud, possibly even using this book as an early reader.
This is the story of Sam, a spirited child. Most of his antics are harmless enough, such as hiding from his mom in the cupboard or riding his scooter through pigeons to make them fly about. Sam, however, does a few jerky things as well, such as hiding a spider in a girl’s lunch, making her scream, hosing down the family cat, making him hiss, or purposefully not following directions of his art teacher, then swiping pictures with another student, taking credit for the other child's work who is now left with the wrong picture for class, Sam saying “Sucker” as this swap takes place.
Being the mom of a “sneaky” boy myself, I would not be happy if my son emulated some of Sam’s actions. This is not to say that children will copy what they see in this simple application, and parents always have a chance to make parts of this book teachable lessons as well. Yet there are moments within that give me pause.
Because of this, I would love to see some changes to the sound effects, making the more socially offensive moments less concerning. These would include allowing the girl to not scream when seeing the spider, but possibly seem surprised and then laughing at this joke, and having the family cat not hiss so violently when sprayed with water but instead choosing a less upset feline sound effect. Above all else, I would really appreciate having the word “sucker” removed from this application for fear that this single word becomes part of my son’s vocabulary - a word that I find ugly and completely unnecessary within a children’s storybook.
Having said this, I do enjoy the look of this app very much, as I enjoy the interactive elements found within. It is also very nice that this application also includes a few extras.
The sticker page contains a hearty selection of stickers one can choose from, and I enjoy how one taps a traditional stamp to gain access to these stickers, in keeping with the period style of this app, as does the chance to change the color of the background, staining the area with color and reminding me of my favorite wood toys.
I am happy that this section includes an “undo” button as well as the chance to save the image created to the camera roll or to email completed work. Unfortunately, this does not save the sticker pages in use to work on for later - something that may make for a nice update in the future.
A Matching Pairs section is also included, consisting of eight cards that are individually turned over in the interest of making pairs, complete with fun sound effects when mates are created.
Find Sam is another area of this app, a really cute hide and go seek activity where children tap about Sam’s house looking for him, often finding other colorful characters instead, complete with more fun sound effects. An abundance of cute stylings is found here, as all the creatures as well as Sam hiding in this page which are seen quickly taking their hiding spaces and, if the player is paying attention, this gives him an advantage in finding Sam.
Babies and toddlers will especially appreciate how one can re-play this mini-game with Sam hiding in the same place, or interact with this section with a new hiding spot.
There is a lot to really enjoy within this app, as the look of this app makes it stand out in a sea of storybook applications. Upbeat music and sound effects make this a nice choice for children who enjoy stimulation while the vintage style of illustrations keeps this app classic looking and in a way and prevents it from becoming overly stimulating.
I do hope that the word “Sucker” will be removed from this application in a future update as this word does not have a place in a story that would, except for this issue, make a fun app for babies and toddlers, visually pleasing their adults along the way.