Bottom line: Super cute way to make your child part of a fun, interactive movie and storybook. Toddlers will be fascinated seeing themselves and older siblings will stay busy exploring the interactive minigames.
PICME Moviebook gives your children the opportunity to see themselves as a character in a story and movie. Four Pin Plug has come up with a tidy twist that combines ebooks with photo integration and is a natural electronic progression from those personalised picture books that enter your child's name and picture into the story.
Now, as this app is aimed at preschoolers, it's up to the adult to set up the initial personalisation features. You can choose to take your own picture with the front-facing camera or access your iOS photo album to pick one. Once an appropriate photo has been accessed, it's simply a matter of marking out the subject's face (this feature is very simple to use) and Bob's your uncle! Set up whether your 'star' is a boy or a girl (for use in the verbal text), type in his/her name, and then choose from either pink or brown skin colour. Then, your little star's face grows a cartoon body and is ready to participate in the story. Oh, and once a character has been set up, he/she is available for future uses, so all members of the family could have a go at featuring in this story.
Now I say 'story', but there are actually two ways for the player to use this app - he/she can choose to watch a five minute movie, or to investigate the story book. Both are called 'Practice makes Perfect' and are essentially the same basic story line but are different from each other, which was a welcome surprise.
The movie plays from start to end with no interaction (as one would expect from a movie) and your child features as one of the supporting characters. I don't want to give too much of the storyline away but it has a piano as one of the main ingredients and your child is the character who is proficient at playing it. The movie is enjoyable and would come in very handy to pass to your toddler when a short-term distraction is in order. My one criticism of the movie is that it could do with a pause button.
The story book is much more involved than the movie - there are objects to tap and interact with on every page and each interaction is appropriate to the progression of the story. Your child star will help to deliver and unwrap the piano, collect instruments and oh so many other things. There are a couple of minigames included in the story - one is to play Humpty Dumpty on the piano (ostensibly to show the lesser-talented lion how it's done). This is then used as the 'expert' demonstration in the story. I liked the way this minigame uses the recorded content as part of the story. The next minigame is to jump and collect instruments on the path to fetch Neville the elephant. The instruments are counted as they are collected. This is, once again a nice touch, but the music teacher in me wanted to hear them named as well. Well, the developer had already anticipated my little niggle as later in the story, they are named!
There is the option for autoread on or off - the off option will still read the text, but only if it is tapped. The words are highlighted as they are spoken which is a must have in younger children's ebooks. I sadly missed the ability to turn back a page, especially as some of the pages have interactions that progress the story and if your child misses them the story becomes rather disjointed. The book is rather long, so I'd also appreciate the option to restart from where the story left off.
The story has a moral to 'never give up trying'. Poor Juno the lion has to deal with such discouraging comments as 'I'd give up if I were you' and 'Oh that sounds terrible Juno', but these are countered with positive encouragement which rewards the practice as well as the final result.
The music is jaunty, the graphic are bold and cartoony and the characters are just right for toddlers. Each character on the page has something to say so the fact that the 'star' can only contribute via nods and claps makes his/her silence conspicuous. I do understand that integrating the ability to record a child's voice or even insert his/her name verbally into the story would be a coding nightmare, but it would be a nice extension to this app. Continually hearing my child referred to as "little girl" wore thin after a while.
All in all, there's a lot of content in this app and it can be used for a variety of ages - toddlers can enjoy the movie while preschoolers can explore all of the interactive features that the story book offers. Neville the elephant, Gerty the giraffe, Clarence the crocodile, Umi the parrot, Banjo the monkey and Juno the lion are animal friends worth getting to know.
Eleanor Holland grew up with a wonderful support network that encouraged her to never give up. Hence she ended up playing way too many instruments and practising way too many different forms of dance. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.