Billy’s Coin Visits the Zoo by Spinlight Studios is the delightful new interactive storybook app by Spinlight Studios. All the features that we love in a storybook are there…original story and creative design, professional narration with highlighted text, and the ability to find and learn something new in each retelling. The artwork is stunningly detailed in fabric collage and sculpture that adds depth and a sense that the story is happening in the here and now. Each page has an activity that facilitates attention by drawing kids into the story and allowing them to become a part of it. The story proceeds through activity completion rather than page turning arrows, which ensures attention and reinforces comprehension. I love the fact that there is a beginning, middle, and end to each page, and kids get to practice listening for direction before taking action. Learning to wait (impulse control) is one of the hardest things for all of us to learn, and Spinlight Studios captures this lesson in one perfect package. Beautiful graphics, realistic animal sounds, and rhyming verse makes this book a winner. Children ages 4-7 played with this app in a group setting and alone. In a group, we played by taking turns sharing the page with the group and then completing the action. Even before a preferred activity, all sat captivated and were engrossed in the story. Giggles and a firm thumbs up were given by all. The carryover of waiting for direction, joint attention, and respect for others was amazing after we transitioned from the app to an activity.
Under settings, kids can choose a male or female voice or select to “Read to Myself”. Words are not highlighted in “The Read to Myself” selection gives beginning readers more of a challenge. As the story opens, Billy’s mom has given him a coin to spend at the zoo, but alas he drops it in the drain. Children then follow and direct the coin throughout the zoo, giving this book a twist on the perspective of visiting the zoo. The coin visits 12 different animals - monkeys, an alligator, a toucan, a kangaroo, and others. The animals one-by-one reject the coin and flip, spit out or toss it out of their cage where it is received by another. In the end, a seal bounces it in the air, where Billy finds it much to his delight. He uses his coin for an animal toy. In “The End” fun facts about the animals appear with the bought toy, and you have a chance of collecting all of them with each retelling of the story. As children learn from repetition, this is a touch of just pure genius on the developer’s part. I do wish that the settings included a way to revisit certain pages and that kids would have access to this feature.
This interactive storybook is highly recommended. The verse is infectious, and the artwork truly original. It not only teaches about the temporal aspects of play, but also helps teach self-regulation, impulse control, and listening to direction. This interactive storybook is highly recommended. The verse is infectious, and the artwork truly original. It not only teaches about the temporal aspects of play, but also helps teach self-regulation, impulse control, and listening to direction.