Bean Bag Kids present Pinocchio Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on May 2nd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Bean Bag Kids present Pinocchio is a very nice interactive universal storybook application that children will enjoy. This app, as the name implies, is a retelling of the classic story of Pinochio, about a puppet carved from wood by a lonely wood carver who wishes that one day this puppet could become a real boy. Here each actor is played by a bean bag dressed in costume as this application is styled as a live performance that one is watching, complete with red velvet curtain and other theatre details.

The adaptation of this story is very nicely done, including the use of excellent narration, as is the choice to underline the text as the words are being spoken - a very nice touch that will aid young readers in following along as these words are being read.

Although I am not always a huge fan of highly computerized 3D animation, the look of this app grew on me as I read this app over a few times, the same experience I had with The Bean Bag Kids first app, Little Red Riding Hood. I now do see the charm within these images, finding them cute and appealing. I enjoy how this story is presented in play form, using dressed up bean bags as actors and includes details such as a red velvet curtain and other theatre effects.

I also enjoy the included interactions as tapping these bean bag characters will have them react to the story being told, including some nice pantomiming moments that made me smile. Tap these characters multiple times as this may be needed to fully play out these scenes - nice touches to be sure. Another aspect to this app that children will enjoy is the ability to dress Pinocchio in different costumes that he will then wear throughout this story.

Do look for the hidden stars as well - three to a page - that are included as doing so will unlock the backstage section where one gets to meet the bean bag characters who work back stage such as the stage manager, makeup artist, set designer or the like - a section I appreciate as I have held a few of these jobs myself, and I feel that it is important that children learn about the essential work being done behind the scenes in the theatre, TV and the movies. Be sure to tilt one’s device because these stars may be hidden among the three-dimensional layers that make up this app and doing so will show off more of the landscape than can be seen at any one angle.

It does disappoint me that there are no donkeys in this version of this story, however, as having Pinocchio begin to grow ears and a tail after his bad behavior on the Island of Toys (which Disney called Please Island) is for me a favorite part of this story. There may be a few reasons why this was not included, one reason being that this app does do a good job of creating a cohesive story that children will follow - already a little on the lengthy side already - so editing may have seemed like it was in order, also maintaining a small cast of characters, common among these Bean Bag Kids performances. They do keep some nice moments with the evil puppeteer who wants to make money from Pinocchio as well as the scene where Geppetto gets swallowed by the whale, which are also favorite moments of this story.

Other extras include one puzzle and a scene from this book being turned into a nightlight - here an image of Pinocchio sleeping comfortably under the warm glow of a soft, faint light. This image is relaxing, but I think parents would appreciate the other two nightlight scenes included for the price of the app. This is also true for the other 11 puzzles that one can pay extra for, especially as the other app in this series consists of 12 puzzles with the price of the app itself, no in-app purchases needed.

Between the two nightlight scenes and puzzles purchases, the price to unlock this app fully is of a higher price point than many parents would be comfortable spending on any one application. Because of this, I would love to see all these extras come free within this app instead. I am not a huge fan of in-app purchases in general as even if children are prevented from buying these extras mistakenly, they can still see this advertising - something as a parent I am looking to minimize as much as possible. Just something to think about for the future.

Other than these notes, this is a fun and cute retelling of the traditional story that children will enjoy.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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