StoryBox 2 Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on January 30th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

StoryBox 2 is a second installment of the digital magazine StoryBox, based on the award winning children’s magazine of the same name and based in the UK.

Because my son has begun to enjoy published children’s magazines at this point, I am always interested in reviewing their digital equivalents.

StoryBox 2 consists of five different sections: a short story as well as two non-fiction sections, an area of games and activities and a second chapter to Polo - a serial cartoon without words.

I do enjoy the Storytime selection, A Night At School, about anthropomorphic animals spending the night at school to avoid a wolf who had been spotted near by, as this story includes an appropriate amount of suspense relatable to my son who I am sure would have a range of emotions regarding the idea of spending the night at school.

There is a very nice moment when the animal children meet the wolf for the first time, realizing that this animal is old and means them no harm - a moment that I think children will keep with them for some time.

Based in the UK, the narrator, to an American ear, has an accent as well as speaks a little quickly but should not be too much of a problem for children to listen to. It is also worth noting that one can record one's own narration - always a good option to have.

I was also quite impressed with the information explained in the Wonder with the Wizkid area of this app, as children learn alongside a curious alien child, allowing children to tap this character’s speech bubbles as Wizkid asks all kinds of questions - here about why humans have five fingers.

I especially like how more in depth the information gets as children then turn the page, tapping to read and hear more about this subject, comparing human hands to those of other animals such as cats, monkeys or fish.

This section also includes some Fun Facts about evolution, and I admire how it is explained that although scientists don’t know why exactly humans have five fingers, there is much that we do know about the subject. I want my son to begin to understand that for some questions, there are no good answers, and that this can nevertheless be ok.

Animal World is another very nice non-fiction section that discusses the world of stags, adult male deer.

There is a lot of information for children to absorb both by reading as well as listening, and I learned some interesting facts about these animals here as well. The illustrations included are wonderful, highly detailed and attractive, but it would have also been nice to see some actual stag photos.

Pull-up window tabs are also included that cover such information as where do stags live, what do they eat and what size do they grow to, but I wish more information were included than “They are a lot bigger than you” to describe the rough drawing of the scale between a child and stag, which could have been more fully explored.

Fun and Games is an interactive area of this app that contains traditional activities such as a Dot-to-Dot, coloring or spot-the-difference pages. My favorite pages from this section involve the tapping to count different vegetables during snack time and a puzzle exercise where one drags puzzle elements which fit into the image of the larger page consisting of a maze that is then completed with the drag of a finger. I do wish an eraser were offered as a tool to aid children as they complete the dot-to-dot and maze activity, and it would also be great if one could tap for hints or simply see the completed Find the Difference page as children may not complete this section without help.

Polo is the serial comic of StoryBox. Without words, this story is dreamlike, picking up from the end of the first chapter where Polo, a dog character, travels up into space from his bedroom window. This adventure continues into a new venue promised for the next installment. I do love the gentle storytelling of Polo, but I do wish each chapter were a little longer as I simply would love more.

Do note that one can tap these comic book-inspired panels, enlarging them to full screen as one wishes as well as recording one’s own stories based on what is seen. Although I don’t often make my own recordings when narration is included, I see great benefit to being able to have children record their own stories - here told without words and wonderful for their creativity. This music included here is also perfectly relaxing, making this section especially desirable at bedtime.

Although I don’t think that a few of the activities such as a single coloring or Dot-To-Dot pages are what make this app stand out from others in iTunes, I truly enjoyed learning about the topics of human hands and stags as well as the other included stories, making this an easy application to recommend.

This is the second in a series of StoryBox applications. If interested, please read my first StoryBox review on GiggleApps as well.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

StoryBox #2 screenshot 1 StoryBox #2 screenshot 2 StoryBox #2 screenshot 3 StoryBox #2 screenshot 4 StoryBox #2 screenshot 5
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