Monday, September 30, 2013
Review - The Mighty League Vol. 1
Bottom Line: A wonderful interactive and customizable storybook app with an important life lesson about stopping bullying. It is based on a real boy, Jonathan Murphy, who is taking on the world with Asperger's Syndrome. He is the narrator of the app. His sister, Molly, wrote the story. What an amazing pair, a great storybook, and a great background story to share with any child.
If you would like to download The Mighty League Vol . 1 ($3.99, iPad/iPhone), please use this cute little link to show us your support.
No ads or in-app purchases. External links lead from a Blackfish bookstore within the app to the iTunes page for the book that you choose. A parental control pops up before being able to leave the app.
The Mighty League Vol. 1 — The Terrible Taunting is a great introduction to the way an individual with Asperger's Syndrome looks at the world. Its lesson about the need to stop bullying is so important and much-needed, and I am really glad Jonathan and Molly Murphy, with the help of their parents, used this interactive book app to raise awareness and teach great life lessons.
The story follows JMan through an adventure at school. As you move through the story, the words become red as they are spoken by the narrator, the real JMan. I love this because it makes it easy for kids to follow along with the words. There is only a limited amount of text on each page. On pages that have more text, the word "more" shows up that one must click to show a different set of text.
When moving through the pages of the story, there are speech balloons to click. JMan carries on conversations with people as the reader clicks through the speech balloons. This is perfect for helping children understand how a conversation is a back to back sharing between two people: a great life skill embedded in the story. One thing that I dislike is that a child can click on the speech balloons while the story is still being read. It will begin reading them at the same time. There is no way to repeat the speech balloon without going away from that page and back to it.
Throughout the story, JMan has his pet hedgehog, Mr. Redge, with him. Find Mr. Redge in every picture, click on him, and then read JMan's journal. The journal is filled with information on Asperger's Syndrome and bullying. The journal is not narrated, and it is a lot of reading. I wish this was read to the user, too, because without narration, this part of the app is limited to children that are able to read it. I would guess that it is around an upper elementary reading level (3rd-5th grade level), but younger kids will enjoy the story a lot also. The illustrations are drawn more for a younger interest group to enjoy.
There are 70 different interactive elements as you go through the story, such as capes waving, Mr. Redge sniffing, and a lot more. Click around to see what can be found. It will tell you at the end of the story how many were found.
Would you prefer to have a female superhero? No problem! Customize the story to include Jaycee instead of Jman. Same story, just a different character. For those higher-level readers, there is an option to go through the notebook only.
This app is very customizable for those needing a little bit of something different. The volume can be controlled on music, sounds, and narration separately. If you want to turn any of those three off, that can be done easily too. This is great for children that are distracted easily or have sensory needs to adapt the app to them.
You can even record the narration yourself, so that you or even your child is the one reading the story. The problem I have with this is that the words will no longer highlight in red. If it would highlight the words as somebody is recording their own words, so it is read at the correct pace, then it would work better in the app. I love being able to personalize with your own voice, although JMan is very well spoken, but I would rather the child be able to track the words with the story. Maybe a child that can track independently when being read to can use the personalized recordings though.
As if I didn't like this app enough already, I found out that there is a Project Based Learning (PBL) curriculum online to go along with the story also. All of you teachers out there better get excited with me! There are some great activities that can be found in this free, downloadable PBL unit by visiting Geek Club Books.
This app would be 5 stars for me if the story speech balloon narrations weren't allowed to overlap, if the custom narration was still accompanied by the highlighted words, and if the journal was narrated, but it is pretty close. These are pretty specific things that don't really take away from the app, but would enhance it just a little bit more.
Heather S. hasn't been able to find all 73 hidden objects yet, but she will continue to read the book until she does. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.