The Adventures of Mac Slim is a very nice universal educational storybook app in a comic book style that teaches a valuable lesson about “character” and is also a good introduction to comic books.

I enjoy this comic app. Its story is fun and engaging, illustrations are colorful and stylized, teaching an important message about what it means to have character. This app is also a nice introduction to comic books, as the narration and character voices nicely demonstrate how comic book pages are read.

Here, main character Mac learns about “character” in school but is at a loss for what this really means. After researching “character” online, he falls asleep and gets sucked into his computer to play a game about “character.” Inside the computer, he meets Worm, another player, who conducts himself in ways that are most unsporting, such as trying to convince Mac to go along with him in cutting the line of fellow players.

Mac does not follow along and does the right thing all along the way, including helping the others as the floor is sabotaged to give Worm an advantage and dropping from the race to help a woman in a car crash due to Worm’s recklessness while driving in the interest of winning this game. At the end, although Worm does come in first, Mac is given the character award for always doing the right thing, even though he did not win the contest. It is a nice moment when Mac says that he still does not know what character is and then it is explained that he had it the whole time, as “Character is doing the right thing, no matter what!”

I really liked this story, as I found it exciting and I appreciate the nod to the movie Tron, as well as the use of effective music that at moments reminded me of the movie “Run Lola Run.” I especially like listening to this app, as the narrator and the character voices do very nice jobs here and sound effects are also included that bring even more life to this comic book. I also like that the game they play has different levels which take the reader to a forest scene and car race.

Although most kids won’t encounter such experiences as dramatic as the ones in this contest, it is nice that parents can have open-ended conversations about how they can show integrity in their daily lives.

It gives me pause, however, regarding the inclusion of Cheeto, the school bully who is introduced before Mac has his dream. This bully threatens Mac and his friends that he is going to “pummel” them before they run away and escape. This character may be fine for grade school kids who unfortunately may know a bully like Cheeto, but I am not looking to explain what “pummel” means to my three year old son who will soon be starting preschool and is unaware of the concept of bullies and physical threats of violence.

Maybe this app is simply not geared toward him, but I do think he would understand and learn from the dream sequence and the message about integrity, as well as enjoy a good story with a lot of action, plus an interesting comic full of storyboards – something my son has yet to be emerged in.

The antagonist Worm does enough wrong in contrast to the correct values of Mac in terms of fairness that my son would understand this message, a lesson he is not too young for, but the idea of Cheeto’s threat of violence is just too intense for him right now.

I really did enjoy most aspects of this comic book app, and parents will make the decision for themselves with regard to whether Cheeto’s character is appropriate for their child, possibly as an important starting point to talk about bullying in school.

This app was developed by Big Mouth Presentations, a non-profit group that has been speaking to schools since 2001 and nicely articulates the concept of character in a way kids will understand. I do recommend this app, not just for its message but as a neat comic book with some nice sci-fi elements.

Included are coloring pages one can print or email, and a personality quiz determining who the character in the story is most like, but this only opened to a blank page for me, something that I hope can be sorted out for a future update.

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