Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Mr. Elephant & Mr. Mouse teach kids to embrace their differences

Purpose of App: A book app that tells the story of Mr. Mouse (an elephant) and Mr. Elephant (a mouse), who are not happy with their names and the way of life associated with them.

Strengths: High quality animation and narration. When reading without narration, a child can click on any word and have it pronounced. Does a good job of having the characters explain and verbalize why they are troubled.

Weaknesses:  No way to get back to home screen once story begins. Option to stop narration causes the whole page to be reread once played again.

Suggested Audience: Children who may feel they don't quite belong or believe that the grass is always greener for someone else.

Meets Intended Goal
Worth the Price
Ease of Use
Educational Value
Level of Customization

If you would like to download Mr. Elephant & Mr. Mouse ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:



Everyone is guilty of wanting to change something about themselves or be more like someone else they know. Many kids with special needs can relate to the feeling of not belonging and wanting things to be different. In the app, Mr. Elephant & Mr. Mouse by Jelly Biscuits, children meet two characters who are troubled and feel they don't quite fit in.  This adorable story tells how Mr. Elephant and Mr. Mouse learn to embrace their unique attributes and ultimately succeed.

The story begins by introducing the characters Mr Mouse, who is an elephant, and Mr Elephant, who as you may have guessed, is a a little mouse. Although he is a mouse, Mr Elephant tries to do elephant things, and Mr Mouse does things commonly associated with mice. This does not work so well, and so our mixed up friends feel troubled.

I have worked hard with a therapist to get my son to use his words and tell when he is troubled and express his problems. I think it is fantastic that the mixed up friends go to the support group SNAFU - Silly Named Animals Forever United. Not only do the characters clearly express there problems to sympathetic ears, but they had their feelings acknowledged when, "everyone clapped and understood their feelings."

It was at this meeting that the two characters met a new friend who suggested they try swapping names. They agreed to give this a try, thinking the other friend's name and life would suit them better. After a little while, they felt miserable in their new lives and missed many things from before.  Spoiler alert: the friends learned that their old names, though not the norm, wasn't so bad after all. The friends learned to not only accept what had been troubling them, but they learned how to exceed by embracing their uniqueness.

Not only is it a fun little story, but it is a top quality book app. Like many book apps available, it offers the option of read to me narration as well as the ability for users to turn off narration and read to themselves. The narration is a superb, high quality reading which children will enjoy. The narrators rich voice and intonations add to the beautiful graphics on each page.

The detailed illustrations allow children to select different areas to further interact with the page. There are minimal interactions per page; although, I suggest double tapping the SNAFU banner, as well as tapping the fire ladder for cute surprises. It is a great balance between added entertainment and not being overly distracting or losing focus from the story itself.

One of my favorite features is the ability to select any of the written words to have it pronounced aloud. For early readers who stumble on new words, the ability to have the word spoken aloud, if needed, is a great advantage. Each word is also highlighted, while being read in both the read to me option or when selected individually.  It is great when a book app also focuses on reinforcing fundamental reading skills, such as associating spoken and written words.

Readers are able to stop the reading and auto advancing of pages by clicking on the retractable stop button on the right hand side. However, when clicking stop, the narration stops and when restarted it will play from the beginning of that page. It does not simply restart where it left off. It would be nice if it was a pause feature within the narration and not just a full stop and restart for each page.

Also, readers are not capable of returning to the main menu mid-story. If a reader wishes to go back and turn off sounds or narration after the story has begun, they must flip pages all the way to the end. Then, once settings are corrected, the story begins again from the beginning. This is only a minor inconvenience though, as the settings are shown before the story is started each time. Most likely, a user would not need to modify settings mid-story, but it would be nice to have the option.

Mr. Elephant & Mr. Mouse is a whimsical story about two characters who aren't happy with their current circumstances. Children will be able to easily relate to thinking the life someone has would be better than their own. This is an outstanding story and well done as an interactive book app.

I would gladly pay $2.99 for this well written, high quality book app that children are likely to read over and over.  However, 11 lucky people will win a FREE copy of this app!  Smart Apps for Special Needs is happy to work with Jelly Biscuits in this elephant-sized giveaway.

From iTunes:
Mr. Elephant and Mr. Mouse aren't happy with their names and jump at the chance to swap - but is the grass always greener on the other side?

Bright, bold and interactive, this third book by Glenn Melenhorst and Jellybiscuits continues their tradition of designing quirky children's stories designed and written for children and adults alike.

- Retina graphics
- Voice reading by the author of the book, Glenn Melenhorst, with word-by-word highlighting.
- Word-by-word narration - touch a word to have it read to you.
- Automatic page turn option to have the whole book read to you, alternatively reads to you as you turn to follow your lead.
- High quality sound and motion.

Rachel H wanted curly blond hair when she was little instead of her "dull brown" hair.  She has since learned to love the hair she has.

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