Review by: Carisa Kluver
The Digital Media Diet

covermoonmandanMoon Man Dan: Story & Night Light is a a fun preschool storybook about why the moon goes dark …”It’s time for bed … sleepy head,” begins this highly interactive and animated storybook app for children six and under from new developer Pickled Pepper Productions. Moon Man Dan and the Telescope will have young readers and listeners deeply engaged as the narrator takes them on a journey into outer space. Dan is in charge of the moon’s light, shining so bright in our own night sky. He has help from “The Nooms” (fuzzy little blue aliens named Noomni, Noomnoo & Noomnar) and three cows, called “Moon Moos”.

One night, a telescope falls to the moon, leaving Dan and his crew to devise a way to get it back into the sky. Using cows and a reader-assisted creation (a teeter-totter), they manage to get what turns out to be the Hubble, back in orbit. Dan also covers up the part of the moon that is supposed to be dark with a very large blanket, explaining how it waxes and wanes to young listerners.

This app was created by a team of developers with professional experience in children’s television and it shows in the polished look and feel of all of the animated content. Every page features touchable, tappable illustrations worthy of Saturday morning TV. Tap on the adorable Moonmoos to see the numbers 1, 2, & 3 appear, or on the telescope to learn the names of all its parts. Most of the interactive elements are relevant to the narrative, reinforcing the storyline nicely. Young readers are definitely in charge of this adventure!

Designed for use with young kids at night, this app includes a relaxing video (just under 12 minutes) of Moon Man Dan-  YouTube Preview Image There is also an in-app night light with a timer for 5-60 minutes. It shows a large image of the moon and plays a lullaby in the background before shutting off.

Despite these sweet extras, I found this app to be too stimulating and long for a bedtime story on the iPad, especially for the preschool crowd. I recommend that parents and caregivers take their own child’s temperament into account when sharing before bedtime. This tale is otherwise developmentally appropriate for the target age, although it may be difficult to share with more than one kid since it’s so engaging to little fingers.

Large blocks of text make this an easy title to read, although there is no highlighting to go along with the professional voice-over (a nice feature for learner readers). There is also no setting to allow you to read silently (muting the device leaves a lot of the storytelling out because not all the narration is shown in the text). This app also lacks basic navigation, a serious issue in a title this long (36 pages) and a bit touchy (it crashed twice during testing and there is no way to reset the app to the right page). The addition of audio settings and a pageguide would be recommended for the next update of this otherwise lovely app.

Overall, this is an enchanting tale about the moon, its changing shape and space exploration. Children will learn about our solar system, the Hubble telescope and the moon’s cycles alongside an imaginative and tall tale. The story is simple but sweet, with cartoon-worthy graphics and animation that are guaranteed to keep young readers coming back. Moon Man Dan is a perfect read to share with your little astronaut!

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Recommended!

– See more at: digital-storytime.com

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