Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels is a universal interactive storybook app, also including a video and extras that will be of interest to fans of Thomas and Friends, from the developers at Callaway Digital Arts.
For those who do not know, Callaway Digital Arts has developed high quality apps based on some of children’s favorite series, specifically Miss Spider’s Tea Party, Angelina Ballerina and Thomas and Friends.
Here, Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesel is a story dealing with the interpersonal relationships between the trains living on the island of Sodor. Here, a new train has come into town who seems to be getting all of Thomas’s attention, much to the disappointment of another train, Percy, who is then manipulated by the foils of this story, the diesels, and is lured to dieselworks, home of these not-so-nice trains with the promise of friendship, but in reality this is part of the diesel trains' plan to take over Sodor’s Steamworks.
This story also includes some nice moments of adventure and fire-fighting as well. While in narrater mode, the words are also hightailed when read, always a nice touch for young readers.
Told both in storybook form with included mild but effective hotspots as well as CGI video, this nicely done app also includes a song which has the words being sung highlighted at the bottom of the screen, karaoke-style. Coloring book pages, a matching game and puzzles are also included.
To be honest, I prefer my anthropomorphic characters to be animals, not inanimate objects like cars or trains, a personal preference of mine and the reason that we have never really gotten into Thomas and Friends or the like at our house, although occasionally my son has gotten a few Thomas-themed toys as gifts and has seen the show a few times as well.
Because of this, I did find the plot of this story somewhat confusing, presumably because I am a true outsider when it comes to all things Thomas and I know nothing of the various characters found throughout.
Based on a full length DVD of the same name, a lot of plot points are incorporated into this storybook, making the narrative a little cumbersome for me, but I am sure this would be less of an issue for fans of this series who are familiar with these characters and the style of Thomas stories in general.
I did like the issues touched upon here, such as knowing who your true friends are, and the feelings of rejection when new, popular kids come to town, allowing for some nice open-ended conversations for adults to have with their children.
This app will make a great companion piece to any family who has watched this DVD or who are fans of the show. The quality of this app, the narration and the sound effects included with this storybook are very well done, and I enjoy being able to enlarge the text with a tap for an easier read, especially when the narration is turned off. I also appreciate the included menu of pages and the ease of use of the settings as well.
Some nice extras are also included here, and I do enjoy how the completion of the included puzzles brings player to a short clip from the video where this puzzle image presumably was pulled from.
It is also nice that the matching game allows one to choose an easier or more difficult level that contains more cards that one has to turn over and match together, each including a character from the book and have a sound bite of their very own. These moments include a few words found within this story, making this a more engaging experience than other games like it without specific sound effects.
The coloring book consists of six pages to color, but I would like to see more brush size choices, as here only a larger paintbrush and a smaller pen are offered, and I still think children will find it difficult to color within the lines of some of these more detailed areas of some of the included trains. It would be nice if one could enlarge these images to color in the fine details if one wanted to - just an idea for a future update.
I find it interesting that this CGI video, although recapping the same story as the storybook, possesses a very different look, more of a music video of sorts, than the included storybook, this app offering two unique experiences fans of Thomas will enjoy.
I do recommend this app for any family with a Thomas and Friends enthusiast, especially those who are a fan of the DVD. I know my son asks to watch DVDs before bed when there is little time, so it is nice that parents in this same predicament with their own children can read this storybook or watch the included video before bed instead.
This specific Thomas app I do feel is best suited for those already fond of and knowledgeable about Thomas and Friends. Children new to this franchise may find themselves subsequently feeling a little lost, as did I, but I can imagine fans of Thomas really enjoying this application, and for those families, I recommend this app.