Bottom line: Worth a look if you want something fun that celebrates difference and/or your children are penguin lovers.
Pete & Sneakers are two penguins who could not be any more different. I had to be careful with this review because the author, Erin Davis, pretty much had me at "penguins." In my book, not finding these flightless birds adorable may constitute evidence of psychopathy. However, I digress.
As you may have gathered from the title, the app is about the bedtime routine of both penguins. Their characters are almost opposites and so while the steps in their routine are the same, their execution of them is very different. Pete is a buttoned-down, conservative sort of avian whereas Sneakers is quirkier. For example, Pete likes to read about starfish and whales at bedtime while Sneakers reads about trucks and motorbikes.
There's lots to like about this ebook:
- As a mother of twins who are poles apart in terms of personality, I found the celebration of difference very appealing.
- Sneakers is unconventional but it's handled well. He's not anti-authoritarian, he understands the importance of taking baths and brushing beaks, he just likes to do them in his own way.
- The app uses a split-screen with Pete on the left and Sneakers on the right, so siblings could read the book together and each have a penguin to interact with. Obviously anything that fosters sharing is a positive.
- The artwork is colorful and fun.
- The music is nice - it's like Schroeder from Peanuts is quietly playing the piano in the background.
- The kids who are the voices of Pete and Sneakers are appropriately cute.
- There's a fun feature when Sneakers is brushing his beak - he pretends his toothbrush is a mic and at this point your kids can actually record and playback a song of their own.
Having said all that, there are some ways in which the app misses the mark:
- I wouldn't actually use this app with my kids at bedtime. It's fun and engaging but I prefer something calmer. I'm pretty sure that dancing under a disco ball right before bed would not induce sleep in most kids. Given that mine are autistic and therefore quite literal, I haven't actually shown them this app because I prefer books or apps that model appropriate bedtime behaviors for them.
- The sound quality for Pete & Sneaker's voices isn't always great - sometimes it sounds like it was actually being recorded in a bathroom.
- There are visual prompts but for the section where the child can record something, the record and play buttons are hard to see. It actually took me a while to figure out what to do and there's no way of skipping the feature and just turning the page.
- The animations are, in general, clunky. I don't think they add much to the story and the app would probably work better without them.
- At only 9 pages, the app feels a little insubstantial.
If you have kids that are penguin-lovers or are looking for an app that demonstrates to children that there are lots of different ways to do things and how they choose to do them is a great way of expressing themselves - then give this app a look.
If you would like to purchase The Pete & Sneakers Bath and Bedtime Show ($1.99) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link button:
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer whose favorite fictional penguin is probably the one in the book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (highly recommended). smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.