The Great Cookie Thief is a new universal interactive storybook app by Callaway Digital Arts based on a popular Sesame Street segment from 1971 and later a book of the same name.

The Great Cookie Thief is a silly story with a western theme, taking place in a saloon when patrons notice a stranger who oddly looks very much like the wanted poster of the “Great Cookie Thief” that this stranger is standing next to. Children and their adults will have a lot of fun with this tale as they will recognize Cookie Monster both as the Cookie Thief in the poster as well as the stranger himself.

The other people in the saloon take notice of this stranger, but not wanting to make any hasty assumptions, compare the traits that both the thief and this other character share, such as big, white goggly eyes, wide mouth, blue fur or black hat. Everything checks out, but this sly stranger notes that he does not resemble the poster because he is without an important element that he himself draws on the poster with great comic nuance. There is also a silly ending that children of all ages will smile at.

Interestingly, the original take on this story was for Cookie Monster to draw a mustache on the poster, but this fun digital adaptation has a few disguises for Cookie Monster to choose from, including a mustache, pigtails or glasses. Children can also choose with a tap what details one can compare with Cookie Monster and the poster, offering children a chance to explore three out of five available details. It is especially nice that the sheriff in this story talks directly to the readers, deputizing them and drawing children directly into this story as they choose which Cookie Monster traits to compare.

The illustrations are wonderful as one may expect, bright and colorful, including muppet characters that readers will have great affection for. I really enjoy how the animated details are creatively articulated throughout these pages while never being very video-like – an aspect I think many parents will appreciate. A nice layered 3D look is included – effective without being a distraction.

I also really enjoy the chance to interact with other auxiliary characters found in the saloon to hear witty comments that are also heard between page turns. For the richest experience, do wait to hear this dialogue before turning the pages, and it is charming how the reader is drawn into the story.

My son has been very excited about this app from the moment I told him I was given the opportunity to review this application. He pestered me until I downloaded this app onto our devices and really enjoys this fun interactive story. It was also the first app he asked for when an unfortunate situation made me need to re-install apps back onto my iPhone – high praise to be sure.

It may be worth noting that Cookie Monster actually does not say much in this story, and in some ways his participation is slim. Having said this, it was Cookie Monster who was the big draw for my son, and he loves this story even without it being focused on Cookie himself.

A section is included which allows children to make their own wanted poster from characters in this story using a photo from their device or from a new photo if their device has a camera. Draw over or add stickers from the chosen character or photo, which will be turned into a wanted poster complete with a new, silly Western name and crime that has been committed. The saving, printing and emailing of these posters are also options.

I also really like the parents’ section of this app which explains not only this app’s functions but also offers hints on how to help children get the most from this cute story. The included music is also great, ranging from a simple western theme to that which would be at home within Kill Bill – a nuance that adults will appreciate while keeping this app utterly family-friendly.

I did not, however, find reference to the in-app purchases I saw available through iTunes. I am not typically a fan of these add-ons, especially within apps that one pays for, as I would rather pay upfront than feel, in general, manipulated into getting what I often consider the full content of an application. Having said this, I did not find how to make these purchases within the app, or what they offer readers – an odd omission that maybe I have missed.

Even with this issue, my son and I have enjoyed this story very much. The one note I do have is that the pages take a very long time to load between each page, which can take a reader out of this experience. Luckily, being big Muppet and Sesame Street fans, we found the story and overall style still engaging and worth the wait for the pages to load, but I can imagine others feeling differently – especially since many, if not most, other interactive storybooks load pages without effort.

The Great Cookie Thief is still an easy book to recommend, but I hope the page-loading time can be greatly reduced in the future. We have also had issues with this app crashing on us. I hope this concern can also be dealt with in a future update.

Posted in: Art, By Age Range, By App Feature, Creativity, Just For Fun, Language, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Primary School, Reading, Reviews, Stories, Toddlers

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