StoryBox Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 14th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

StoryBox is a very nice digital magazine for kids based on the award winning children’s magazine of the same name and based in the UK.

My son and I have enjoyed all that this app has to offer, as this digital magazine is compiled of six sections to enjoy, including a lovely story about a cow who won’t moo, two non-fiction sections, one that explore why airplanes leave trails in the sky and a section on humpback whales. There are some nice kite-themed activities, a fun comic book section and a charming story styled with separate panels but with no text - just creative illustrations to follow, complete with lovely music to listen to.

It is nice that one can either move from story to story within this app or return home to the contents page to make the next story choice.

I do have a few favorite parts that I would like to share. My son and I especially enjoy the Story Time section - How About A Moo - about a calf who wakes up one morning without making her typical moo sounds. Everyone on the farm tries to cajole this poor animal to making this sound until the gentleness shown by her mom makes everything right again. As a mother, I really enjoy the ending of this book as it has a tender message that parents will especially appreciate. There are some nice, subtle movements throughout this story with nice effect. Adorned with beautiful illustrations and few moving details as well, no interactions are offered here, nor do I think that they are needed as this story is quite charming just the way it is.

I have enjoyed the science and animal world sections as well, about airplanes and the trails they leave, as well as all about humpback whales. The airplane is interactive, giving the readers a chance to tap speech bubbles and text found that explain this phenomenon. The illustrations used within the humpback whales article are especially impressive and great information is provided about how these creatures trap and eat sardines without being overly graphic, yet full of interesting details that will engage readers of any age.

I like that one can zoom in and out to see the details of the comic area, and that one can watch a video of SamSam on You tube as well. There are kite-themed games and activities also included, mostly well translated from the traditional paper magazine that I imagine this app is based on and it is good that one can save the drawing one has colored, as a coloring book page is also included here. However, there are no instructions as to how to figure out the activity concerned which child is flying a specific kite in one of this app's sections. I was able to figure out how to maneuver this game after a few minutes, but I don’t know if kids would easily understand what to do, and a hint at gameplay would be a nice inclusion.

Polo is the last section of this app, interesting as this tale that is told in a series of panels much like a comic book and is expressed without words. Here, a dog falls asleep to then be awakened by a yellow, glowing object climbing into his window from a rope. Intrigued, this dog climbs out of his window on this rope which ultimately leads him into space.

The piano music accompanying this section is wonderful, sleepy and even a bit melancholy. I do have mixed emotions about the ending of this tale, however, as it is “to be continued” later. I understand that serial comics and other stories have a long tradition and not uncommon in magazines, and I would be less bothered by this if I had bought a full subscription to a traditional magazine as this would insure that my son would receive the next installment of this story. However, I am not a huge fan of needing to buy additional add-ons or apps to continue reading. I do enjoy this wordless narrative very much though, because combined with the music, it creates an experience very creative and even a little moving, I simply wanted more.

I really enjoy StoryBox as I appreciate the content offered. Other apps like this may be more interactive, but I think the balance between the classic and simple storytelling, both narrative as well as documentary style, along with interactive games, activities, and other areas is nicely done.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

StoryBox screenshot 1 StoryBox screenshot 2 StoryBox screenshot 3 StoryBox screenshot 4
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