Scott’s Submarine Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 28th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Scott’s Submarine is a very good universal story book with a few interesting elements making it stand out among other ebooks. It is nice that one can choose between two reading levels, one for 2 - 3 year olds as well as 4 and up, which uses more advanced vocabulary, longer sentences and more text per page. This app also includes four languages - English, Spanish, French, and Japanese with narration by native speakers, something that I think is very important. Of course, one has the option of listening to the narration or simply reading this story to oneself.

Scott’s Submarine tells the story of Scott, who being bored one day, chooses to go on an adventure aboard his personal submarine with his friend Aiko. Although I am not always the biggest fan of 3D illustrations, I must say that this app looks quite impressive, full of wonderfully bright and vivid colors, especially in the ocean scenes.

This app includes a puzzle on some pages where you need to find certain objects or aquatic life to fill in empty puzzle spaces provided. I like the fact that one is aware when these puzzles are available by a magnifying glass icon that can be tapped on the right side of the screen, also giving the reader the option of bypassing these puzzles if they want to focus on the story. Do tap objects and sea creatures, looking for sound effects hidden throughout the pages of this app, especially the some of the ocean sounds which are especially well-done.

The best part of this app is the ability to take photos of anything one may see. It does take some getting used as to how to center your shot just the way you may want, but the effect is quite wonderful as you look through your photos saved in the app’s photo album.

It is nice that these photos are saved, but with limited space, one will ultimately need to delete images sooner or later. This is kind of a bummer, but at the same time adds to the replay value as one can take new images as well. I am impressed with this feature as no two photos are bound to be exactly the same, and there is always something new and interesting to look at and photograph, especially as one scrolls down to the ocean’s floor. I would love to see, if possible, a zoom feature added to the camera as well.

It is a real treat to look at the album and see that a photo from the ocean that has an eye icon under it. This means that a tap will take the reader to a photo and description of the actual sea creature. The photos used here are beautiful, and the descriptions are highly educational and very interesting, even for adults. Seventeen of the sea creatures found have this extra information, and it is the reader's task to find and photograph them, adding to the puzzle aspects of this app.

Many of the details of the story itself add to the educational aspect in a way that is quite effortless, such as Scott explaining that the “rainbow” they see is really a school of silver fish as their scales reflect light in a rainbow pattern and how true rainbows are only seen in the sky. Later on, Scott’s friend Aiko wants to take home a starfish, but Scott explains that the starfish must stay in the ocean or it will die, all good information for kids who enjoy exploring the sea.

I really enjoy the fantasy aspect of how Scott and his friend can board and submerge a submarine any time they like without any parental involvement, and this story gets really interesting as the kids take the sub to the bottom of the ocean and investigate a sunken ship. They find a treasure chest and try to open it with long robotic arm devices that are attached to the sub that Scott can control. Their plan is interrupted as a huge octopus grabs the sub, and they need to use their robotic arms to free themselves in a way that is very cute and quite memorable. I do wish, however, that the kids got into the treasure chest instead of leaving it unopened, simply saying that they will be back. I think kids deserve conclusions to the stories they read without cliffhangers because I can understand kids being frustrated by this non-ending of this important detail, especially since the experience is such an immersive one.

Having said this, I do think Scott’s Submarine has a lot to offer. I thoroughly enjoy taking my own pictures, looking for the animals with added information. I think this will be a hit with kids, especially those who are interested in the ocean, or for those who enjoy using their mom and dad's camera on the iPhone, as does my son.