Bottom Line: A wonderful trip down memory lane for any mom that had a dancing ballerina music box as a kid and wants to share that old classic with her digital age child. There is a free lite version to try.
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My childhood memories are getting fuzzier every year, but I do remember I once had a little wooden jewelry box with a ballerina that spun around when you lifted the lid. Kidoteca has recreated the turn the key old-fashioned music boxes we had as children with a deceptively simple but beautiful new app called Magical Music Box. It's a nostalgic throwback for parents that is sure to please today's tech savvy girls and boys alike.
Users have a choice of six different music boxes with wildly different styles. There's the sweet carousel horses surrounded by pink hearts which is perfect for little girls, but there is also an underground diamond mine scene with a clever pick-axe handle for the wind-up key. Each background is carefully themed and has spinning, moving parts. Planets orbit a fiery sun in the spaceship scene while a boat sails across the seas in a nautical setting. My favorite is watching the skyline rotate against a deep purple night sky. A cat sits on a roof lazily thumping its tail as the rest of the city sleeps and the old man in the moon keeps a watchful eye out.
The music boxes aren't the only choice kids get to make with this app. From a pull-up control panel, users can also access 21 pieces of music that include classical selections from Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, lullabies and some other popular or patriotic tunes. The tunes work on all the music boxes so there are quite a few combinations to try out. The developer has put a lot of thought into making the app simple enough for even a small child to use. The musical pieces are represented by pictures instead of text. It was pretty clear that the swan was going to be Swan Lake and the spotted cow nicely stands in for Old MacDonald Had a Farm. All of the music is recorded to sound just like you would imagine it if coming from a real wind-up music box.
The third choice on the control menu is a gramophone. The app can be set to play automatically or kids can control play by swiping in a circle with an arrow as a guide. When kids are in control, the music will play as fast as they move their finger. It was rather fun to speed up familiar songs then slow them down. In automatic mode the tune will play until the device sleep mode takes over. It would be nice if there was an override mode or timer within the app as this would make a perfect bedtime companion.
One pleasant surprise is that each musical piece is identified by pressing the question mark on the control panel. I really enjoyed reading about each composition and gave myself a big pat on the back for correctly recognizing Beethoven's 5th Symphony. The text for these descriptions is available in English, French and Portuguese. For some, lyrics are provided so parents can sing along if they desire. According to the developer more music boxes and additional tunes will be available through updates.
Magical Music Box is one of the few apps that I enjoyed more each time I came back to it. There is something very soothing and almost hypnotic about listening while the trains, horses and boats go round and round. Part of what makes the app so satisfying is that the musical choices are nearly perfect. They are as ageless and timeless as the old jewelry box I had as a child.
Jill Goodman, featured here in classic Chanel, wonders where girls with digital music boxes keep their sterling silver charm bracelets, 10k gold-filled tokens from first boyfriends and Sweet 16 diamond chip earrings. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.