Bottom Line: A terrific ebook for beginning readers with an engaging high interest story and built-in comprehension exercises.
Larry the friendly green lizard, first introduced to readers in Lazy Larry Lizard, returns for a new adventure in Lost Larry by Graham Nunn of Wasabi Productions. In this third installment of the series, readers are asked to help Larry Lizard find his way home. Each page of the story has a rhyming four-line stanza and an interactive task to help advance Larry on his journey.
The app features a choice of read to me with smooth Australian accented narration or independent reading. There is also an option to have hints for the interactive challenges on or off. While the tasks are designed to be kid friendly, those needing additional explanation can push the blue i icon for step-by-step instructions on activating all animations and how to get Larry on his way.
Lost Larry’s plight is sure to be a hit with readers ages 3-6. The language is age appropriate, the hand drawn illustrations complement the text, and the motor and counting tasks keep a youngster’s attention from start to end. What makes reading this story especially rewarding is that the interactive elements are purposeful and advance the story. Readers must comprehend and/or receptively understand the textual clues in order to drag, tap and trace Larry home. Larry won’t make it home if the child doesn’t pay attention to the story and demonstrate recall of key elements.
Some tasks are easy, such as tracing a finger through a zigzag path. Others require careful timing like a perilous cliff jumping scene. The notes explain that Larry is supposed to fall in the first attempt across and successive attempts get easier. Minding the gap was never this much fun.
Much of what makes this book app a standout, beyond the quality storyline, illustrations and sound effects, is subtle. It includes rhyming, which is important for phonological awareness in early readers. A variety of action words such as trace, push, stroke and count are introduced and then must be physically demonstrated on the page by the reader. These elements make the story especially well-suited to English language learners and special needs children with language-processing difficulties.
As much as I enjoyed the river and ravine crossings the first few times through the story, other than the Hoovering anteater that I couldn’t get enough of, the novelty of maneuvering Larry’s tortuous road home does wear off. Since the journey ends with Larry going to sleep, this makes a great bedtime story when jumping through hoops is bypassed. Having more variety in the motor tasks would also be welcome.
$3.99 is also on the expensive end of the ebook price sprectrum and the app is iPad only.
For a third book in a series, I am curious to know a bit more about Larry. He seems to be a bit of a loner. Also, even though this story is fiction, I do wonder if it might send the wrong message to kids prone to wander like my autistic son and his adventuresome brother. As a parent I always caution my kids to stay where they last saw me if lost. Mama, Disney castmembers or mall security will find you. Trying to make one’s way home alone isn’t generally the best choice when faced with Larry’s situation for real.
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Jill Goodman’s review was not influenced by the presence of Larry’s lost brown cousin in her garage and dining room. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.