Bottom line: A very bland e-book with a message that may be lost on younger children. Does have an option to write your own ending.
If you would like to purchase Matias the Rebellious Chicken ($1.99 iPad/iPhone), please use the link below:
To tell you the truth, I'm a little confused about what I'm even supposed to call this app. The title page says Matias the Rebellious Chicken. The narration says Matias the Rebellious Chick. The App Store says Matias the Rebellious Chicken. Go figure. Matias doesn't even look much like a chicken as has a very prominent forehead reminiscent of the coneheads from Saturday Night Live.
Anyway, Matias the Rebellious Whatever-He-Is is an e-book from Next Stage's Brainy Fables collection. It's written by Franco Soldi and illustrated by Pedro Bascon. Matias tells the story of a little chick who's unhappy on the farm because he's tired of doing what his parents tell him, and decides to head out into the big world so he can do things his own way. For reasons I do not understand, young Matias feels the need to make his mark on the world while wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses. As the story points out, he does this even when it's not sunny or cold. Is the stereotypical James Dean look supposed to add to his rebellious vibe? I'm not sure I understood that part.
You already know how this story goes, right? Matias leaves home, discovers the big, bad world is not all it's cracked up to be, and promptly comes running home, ready to accept his parents' authority and be a less rebellious chick. There's no place like home and all that jazz. All of which brings me to my central point about this app: If you're going to write a new story to teach a timeless lesson, you better write a good one, because you already have a lot of competition out there. And it seems to me that the creators of Matias would have been better off retelling an old story rather than writing a new one. Overall, this app gets a resounding "meh" from both me and my five-year-old helper.
On the positive side, Matias does learn his lesson, and he does come home a changed chick. And in addition to the "grass is not always greener" lesson, the story can also be used as a discussion point to teach kids about stranger danger, since Matias encounters both a weasel and a snake who befriend him before attempting to eat him. Narration can be turned on or off, and is available in both English and Spanish. The reader also has the opportunity to write her own ending, which is a nice touch. There are some coloring pages, and even though my daughter liked them, they're clearly an afterthought.
For me, the distractions far outweighed the positives about the app. The Grammar Nazi in me couldn't get past the many missing punctuation marks, not to mention the places where the written text and the narration didn't match. In fairness, the developer is based in Madrid, and it's possible that some of the language glitches are the result of poor translation.
The illustrations are a golden yellow color with black-and-white line drawings – a color scheme that, for a kid, is monotonous by the third page or so. There are additional sounds and animations on each page for the reader to find, but to call this e-book interactive would be using that term loosely.
By far the worst distraction for me is the writing, which is trying WAY too hard. The second the preachy language started, my daughter's eyes glazed over and she asked if we could move on to another story. I understand the point the author is trying to make – he hits it so hard, there's absolutely no chance of NOT understanding it – but that doesn't make it interesting or well-written or attention-getting. The old writing adage, "show, don't tell," has never been more applicable.
Matias is one of four fables in the clever kids™ series from Next Stage. I hope the others are more engaging as fables and the lessons they impart are an important part of literature. Kids are pretty savvy about what makes a good story, and this one won't fool them. Ellie gave it a thumbs down, and I can muster only two and a half stars.
Emilie Davis could use a nice leather jacket and some cool shades for Christmas. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.