Stories can’t get much better than SlimCricket’s Prehistoric Mystery. It has all the elements of an instant classic, with lively animated depth and a story line that will keep kids entertained and laughing throughout. Intended for kids 6-8, it’s entertaining enough for older kids or to be used therapeutically. It can be experienced in six languages, has a read to me, and a read to myself feature to promote independent reading. The story centers on Lucy and Darwin, her pet Dodo, helping to find the thief of a number of missing objects. As usual, all the tribes are bickering and blaming each other and the investigation goes nowhere, until Lucy steps onto the scene. Lucy’s Uncle Hermit has always been the one to advise the tribes, and she’s a little nervous but excited at the chance to give it a try. Page by page kids examine clues and ready themselves for finding the solution as well as broaching topics such as acceptance of others, the ability to stay calm, and responding by listening and not simply reacting in a stressful situation. When Lucy is ready, she gathers all. Kids help Lucy systematically sift through the evidence to make a surmise at who the possible thief is in the valley. The moral of the story: we are stronger when we work together. At the end, if you’ve solved the mystery and accomplished the quests, a surprise image is revealed. When I first looked this app over, I was in a waiting room. As I began to play, slowly kids and adults alike were inching over, wanting to see what was happening next, and that says a lot about Slim Cricket’s ability to engage readers.
Make no mistake; it’s not all about fun. This interactive storybook is rich in modeling of self-regulation and staying cool when the world around you seems to erupt as well as demonstrate problem-solving strategies. Most importantly, it brings up the subject of intolerance and the need to accept others. Lucy frequently reminds the arguing tribes not to jump to conclusions based on one or two facts. She waits, listens, and respects the input of all the citizens. There are many activities spaced within the story that help reveal clues on how to organize data. One of my favorite activities is rolling the wheel through a maze using the iPad’s accelerometer. Here, kids get practice with dissociating their left and right sides by playing. Why is this important? Being able to dissociate your left from your right helps with both bilateral coordination and the ability to smoothly execute tasks beginning and ending with a directional flow like reading and writing. Other activities involve more than just a quick exchange, and challenge the ability to use both hands in a conjunctive manner, visual scanning, and number sensibilities. Another favorite was the use of breath control to help a fire stay ablaze. It’s these kinds of finely tuned details that incorporate physicality and precision into the apps that make it so original and impact the acquisition of
developmental skills in making a learner successful.
The artwork is phenomenal and conveys depth and dimension, and as you manipulate the iPad, there is a slightly different visual take. On some of the pages along the way, the little cricket appears on top within the lines of the written story and challenges you to find him. The clickable animations add to then of the story rather than being distracting. For instance, tapping on the clouds changes the shapes into fluffy prehistoric images. Narration is professional, and the character of Lucy is fully filled out and relatable. Diversity is portrayed throughout the story in the characters, and there are many other topics that classes and families can explore too. Bottom line: I adored this book – Highly Recommended.