Hanna & Henri-the Robot is Tales and Dice’s sequel (to the popular Hanna & Henri-the Party). It is an enchanting interactive storybook describing daily routines of the two main characters, Hanna and Henri. Within the pages a story of wonder and the celebration of life unfold, as well as the challenges and obstacles we all face on a daily basis. This makes all the characters real and accessible. Early on, we learn Hanna is always late, because she has difficulty telling time and sometimes has a hard time staying focused. She tends to get swept away in the moment, and this opens up the possibilities of discussing topics like time management – things we need to learn and do to organize ourselves and about individual differences. It is from stories like these that children learn social skills and the acceptance of others by allowing kids to try on a persona, think about what’s happening and possibly what to do differently.
The story lays out the consequences to actions that the characters have taken in a simple nonjudgmental way that lends itself to open dialogues. And this is what makes the Hanna & Henri series so rich and wonderful in its context. Included in the app are 10 extended interactive pages, with activities that include, getting dressed in the proper sequence, sorting and matching, finding the differences, building a robot and its remote control. Almost all the activities are open-ended, meaning there are multiple possibilities to be creative and explore. The repetition provides a framework for creative expression or a safe place to start, and it never gets old for a child. For example, have you ever given a child a whistle, and wished four hours later that you should have bought them a stuffed bear instead? Graphics are lovely, and narration is professional and paced for preschoolers, so that they have the opportunity to process all that is going on in the story. Options and the ability to navigate to certain pages are available on the left hand side of the app in an unobtrusive way.
The story centers on Hanna and Henri and their playdate with Hanna’s Aunt to build a robot. Hanna is late, and must get dressed first before meeting up with Henri. Here is the chance to explore color sensibilities, matching outfits, and dressing for the weather. Once dressed, Hanna skateboards down to her meeting place with Henri, but not before getting distracted! Throughout the pages, there is plenty to explore and some sequential events to uncover – insuring return play to find them all. For instance as Hanna skates by a mouse, a cat appears…then a dog…and then a ?… I will leave it to you, the user, to find all the fun items. Hotspots in the book are joyful and are not just gratuitous opportunities for tapping. They enhance the story rather than deflect from it.
Soon Hanna and Henri meet up and are off to Hanna’s Aunt’s workshop where robots are made. Auntie even has a robot who gives out popsicles! Today, Hanna’s Aunt is making a robot for Mr. Taylor the produce man. After helping Auntie sort out parts, the fun begins. Building a robot has endless possibilities in the app. Each one has personality and fun functions to check out. Why use a trumpet for arms?…or an umbrella for legs? Talk about it, and see how your students think. After making their robot, Hanna and Henri find it needs a robot heart – It’s that bit of magic that helps robots come to life. Of course I do not want to spoil the story, so you will need to discover what comes next on your own.
I adore this series for its simple ordinary magic that celebrates life and the spark of friends, family, and community in making our world whole. Highly Recommended.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.