As a parent, sometimes I am trapped with an imbalanced set of goals when it comes to my juniors' growth. It is certainly much easier to measure the growth of their cognitive skills instead of their emotional wellness. Sometimes, we need a better tool to help us understand what is going on inside their heads.
Today I would like to share about a brand new storybook app that I believe would be able to assist parents in starting discussions with their juniors about emotions, especially worry. It is called Wince - Don't Feed the Worry Bug and is suitable for juniors aged 6-11. The story is written and illustrated by Andi Green, an industry-acclaimed storyteller with a great passion to guide juniors to learn more about their emotions.
The story starts with a little blue monster named Wince who is enjoying a wonderful afternoon at the park. Known as the worrywart, it is not long before Wince starts worrying about many things. From homework and home chores to cookies for the upcoming festival and even the weather forecast, he fills his day with worries.
Shortly afterwards, Wince hears a soft buzzing sound that is very famous in the land. It is the Worry Bug, a bug who feeds on anxiety. Knowing that Wince has plenty of worries, the bug decides to follow him everywhere, including to bed. This causes Wince to have difficulty sleeping, and staying awake longer only makes his anxiety flourish. When he wakes up the morning after, Wince is very surprised to find that the Worry Bug has become much bigger and stronger.
Realizing that he needs to do something about his problem, Wince goes to the Library to find clues that would help him. He even calls in Worry Bug experts for a consultation. After performing measurements and tests to learn more about the Worry Bug, they set up a trap. The idea is to capture the bug, and hopefully would prevent it from following Wince everywhere and stop its growth.
When the trap works, Wince and the researchers are very excited. They sing and dance to celebrate. Wince, who is so happy, goes home to complete his chores. He enjoys his activities so much that he doesn't even have the time to think about any of his worries or the Worry Bug.
Because there is no more worries to feed on, the Worry Bug becomes much smaller and weaker until Wince finally has the courage to shoo the bug away. He knows very well now that he needs to get rid of his worries, otherwise the Worry Bug may come back to haunt him.
What Parents Need to Know
There are plenty of things that define the quality of a storybook app. In addition to technical aspects such as illustrations, interactivity, animations, background music and voiceover, we also need to consider the quality of the story itself. Even though this story has a relatively simple moral message, it holds its own unique value because of how relatable it is to many readers. Wince - Don't Feed the Worry Bug has a unique way to stir the reader's emotion, which makes it a good tool for triggering parental discussions with our juniors regarding the most important yet often unexplored area in their lives, i.e., their emotions.
The storybook has a set of 20 colorful pages filled with unique illustrations of an imaginary world where monsters live and learn to recognize the various emotions that they have. There is a good amount of interactivity and animation, enough to keep our juniors interested but not too much to stir away from its storybook genre. Personally, I find the narration changes a bit too fast for younger readers. Even though the narrator's voice is very clear, I do not feel that the app is suitable for younger readers to read by themselves.
What I Like About the App
Wince - Don't Feed the Worry Bug has an excellent page navigation system where the blue navigation arrows only appear when there is nothing more that you can do on the page. Visual cues in the form of blinking items help readers to know which areas must be tapped in order to move forward. I found that Philip, my 3-year-old son, has no problem navigating through pages of this book even if it doesn't implement the page turning swipe gesture typically found in other storybook apps.
Philip and I also enjoy the worry recorder, a unique feature where you can record your voices and have the app turn them into scraps of paper that would eventually get swallowed by the Worry Bug. I really appreciate this mini activity as it helps to illustrate the main concept in this story. I think that developer made a great design decision by staying true to its storybook genre and only adding extra activities where they are relevant.
I always like to use analogies and metaphors to explain new concepts because they are easier to understand that way. I think that by personifying human emotions, Andi Green has successfully created a meaningful story that everyone can relate with. It is interesting to note that Wince is actually only one of many Worry Woo monsters that Green created, so I am looking forward to the release of other Worry Woo storybooks on the App Store.
Wince - Don't Feed the Worry Bug is a unique storybook app that is capable of triggering discussions with your juniors regarding one of the most important aspects in their growth, i.e., their emotional wellbeing. It may also become a gateway to understanding their emotions deeper and not just their worries. I highly recommend this app for parents who want to know more about their juniors.
Note: Thanks to the wonderful people at iMagine Machine for providing us with the promo code for Wince - Don't Feed the Worry Bug so that Philip and I could enjoy and review the storybook.