Bottom line: a genuine feel good story for parents to share with their kids or for budding, independent readers to tackle on their own.
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Quigley the Caterpillar is an ebook whose appeal lies in its winning story rather than flashy animations, sound effects or games. Author Erin Turnley's story and Pamela Goodman's illustrations are beautifully brought to life as an app by Nation9, an artist's collective. It's a simple story with a positive message which parents will enjoy sharing with their children.
The star of the story is of course Quigley, a nice green caterpillar with 100 legs. He does what caterpillars mostly do - eat leaves. One day Quigley encounters a butterfly and is bewitched by her beauty and grace. Apparently no one had "the talk" with Quigley as he has no idea what changes await him.
Unable to let go of the image of the beautiful butterfly Bertina, Quigley decides to jump start his own impending transformation with an improvised pair of wings. He munches some leaves into the proper shape and calls upon his spider friend for some help attaching them. Props to Quigley for some creative out-of-the-box thinking here. The spider silk is genius, but Quigley's flight reminded me of Buzz Lightyear's ill-fated tumble in Toy Story.
In due time, Quigley makes a cocoon and emerges to find he has his own pair of lovely delicate blue wings. He is quite pleased and despite his new look, he remains the same old Quigley. His friends gather round and celebrate with him. It's a happy ever after ending and fitting conclusion to the journey of acceptance and self-discovery.
One thing I liked about this book is the consistency of the language. The text is longer than a picture book, but still manageable for a child to read himself. There are relatively few difficult or uncommon words introduced. The vocabulary is likely familiar to most six year olds. "Distracted" is probably the hardest word found and since pretty much every 5-7 year old child's picture could go in a dictionary next to the word, it shouldn't be too hard to convey its meaning.
This ebook would be better with the presence of text highlighting. The narration is strong, and it is a good length for kids ready for more than Dr. Seuss but not yet confident enough to tackle chapter books. Having the fallback of tapping a word for assistance, however, would make it much easier for kids to enjoy reading independently. I'd also suggest a softer font. The text appears to be straight off an old typewriter, smudges and all.
Quigley is, if nothing else, original. There are many fables, fairy tales and overly preachy tales with a capital M message available in the App Store. I appreciate how this story takes a subtle approach. Quigley has good friends who help him out and support his efforts at self-improvement. Kids starting school can benefit from lessons on accepting differences, listening and being a good friend. It's nice to see positives of good behavior modeled rather than the campaign of Don'ts schools hammer home as young as kindergarten.
If you enjoy the old fashioned pleasure of reading with your child, Quigley the Caterpillar is worth a look. It's a children's book first and foremost that happens to be available in app format.
J ill Goodman is still waiting for her transformation into a titian haired goddess. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.