Max & Meredith: The Search for Percival by Move On Pluto is a marvelous new storybook app geared for the younger child and backed by research of what is most effective in helping children comprehend, grow, and retain content while learning. With that said, this delightful app lets children choose the path the story takes. In this case, Max’s beloved dog Percival has gone missing and he recruits the help of his neighbor, Meredith. The two friends need to decide the best course of action for finding Percival and they don’t always agree. There are eight different storylines to choose from, each turn takes them on a decision-making quest.
We like the quick tutorial given, although these are usually more helpful to the parent or teacher as most children intuitively dive right in and figure out the mechanics on their own. In the settings, parent or child can control the option for music, sound effects, narration and whether the text is shown or not.
The story takes place in Everdale, get ready for the unexpected! The two main characters couldn’t be more different in their thought process. Max, the cautious and sensible type along with his friend Meredith the high-spirited, imaginative one who follows her hunches are a dynamic duo as they work together to find Percival. Depending on which route the reader chooses the story unfolds in any number of ways and they are faced with decision after decision all along their quest for finding the lost dog. Should they make the conventional flyers “Lost Dog” and post them in the town offering the delicious reward of 100 lollipops or organize a search party by giving a compelling speech to their fellow Everdalians? Or maybe dive right into the Gloomy Gulch and deal with how to handle the intimidating Orgre? Depending upon the path chosen the story takes totally different turns all with surprising endings. Best part, there are no right or wrong answers, just different consequences! No matter what the choice and using their decision skills to help Max and Meredith find Percival their choices lead to the betterment of the welfare of all who live in Everdale.
At the end of each journey, the reader is taken to a simple mapping illustration displaying how the varying decisions made produce different story lines and of course, different endings. This keeps the reader engaged and gives Meredith and Max a long shelf life providing lots of life lessons.
As a special education teacher, I really appreciated that this development team did extensive research and took into consideration that we all learn differently using a combination of modalities. Their studies reflect that storybook apps can facilitate multimedia learning, especially in children at-risk for language or reading difficulty. Animated pictures, sometimes enriched with music and sound, that match the simultaneously presented story text, can help integrate nonverbal information and language and thus promote storage of those in memory.
Back Story: Max & Meredith: The Search for Percival was created and developed by Move On Pluto, a digital media company dedicated to encouraging the imaginations of young minds through interactive storytelling. They launched with the goal of bringing innovative, interactive stories to the youngest readers (ages 2-6) using a research-based approach. With recent research indicating that the technology of story apps can distract from the story (i.e., hotspots and game elements), they focus on using technology to actively engage readers in the narrative itself — the “choose your own adventure” aspect as well as multimedia elements highlighting key plot action. Teachers With Apps feels that Move on Pluto has succeeded by creating a stellar storybook that engages the reader and exposes them to an array of essential reading skills in a most creative way!