If you have been following our reviews, you would notice that we have reviewed several storybook apps for the iPad. Some of them are famous tales, whereas others have original story lines. Yet, most of them share one common attribute, that is, they are aimed at younger children aged 3-10.
Today, I am reviewing the first storybook app that I believe is suitable for slightly more mature audience, e.g. teenagers aged 11+. I believe that parents could also benefit from this book.
One thing I would like to state before I continue with the review is the fact that I honestly did not understand the storyline when I read it for the first time. I originally thought that this was just another storybook app that uses interactivity, background music, and mini games to entertain younger readers. It was only after I had watched the following YouTube video made by the developer that I started to grasp the idea behind the app.
I strongly suggest you to watch the video first before you continue reading. This would give you some sense about what you could take away from the book.
The Artifacts has a unique and deep storyline that would provoke you, as the readers, to carefully think through the events that happened in the life of a young boy named Asaf. Asaf, presumably aged 12, loved to collect a wide variety of things -- from fine art and precious antiques to things that others threw away and living things like caterpillars. As a result, his bedroom and his entire house were filled with stuff. He even had to nest things inside another just to fit as many things as possible.
Unfortunately, his parents did not appreciate his passion. They complained about his bedroom, his things and his animals. One day, not long after his 13th birthday, Asaf went home to an empty house and an empty bedroom. His parents had decided to move to a new house and packed Asaf's stuff for him. They decided to include only the things they deemed to be essential and threw away most, if not all, of Asaf's collections.
When they finally arrived at their new house, Asaf was given a specific instruction to keep his new bedroom clean and tidy, and he was forbidden from collecting new things. This made him very disappointed. He hated everything about his room and refused to leave it.
Feeling trapped, Asaf's imagination started to escape the boundaries of his room. He dreamt about living in the basement of a wizard's castle, being drifted away in a sea storm, getting lost in a deep forest, and floating around in a tiny planet lightyears away from Earth.
Asaf started to collect his thoughts, writing them down in his private diary. He developed an excellent memory for words, dates and numbers. He also started collecting shadows of living things, reliving them in his mind before he went to bed. He read every book he could find in the library to increase his collections of thoughts.
As time passes, Asaf's ideas were formed and multiplied -- until one day, several years later, Asaf decided to leave his house, packing two small suitcases and one very large mind.
What parents need to know
Asaf is a young boy trapped in his old way of collecting physical things to satisfy his inner passion. When he was forced to start a new life and shackled away from his old habits, he started to collect imaginations, thoughts and ideas. Until the day he became mature enough to leave the house, he was no longer attached to his physical collections; instead, he had a great mind to lead his next journey in the real world.
This is just one moral of the story that your juniors could take away from the storyline. Throughout this app, they will face many events, including uncomfortable ones, that would provoke their thoughts on what they would do in Asaf's position. An example would be when Asaf was questioned by his father about how he would have felt if he, instead of his caterpillars, had been the one locked inside a jar. This would be a great time for you to discuss with your juniors about how they should treat animals.
Lynley Stace, the author of this storybook, has created a wonderful and comprehensive Lesson Ideas to guide you as a parent (or a teacher) to accompany and guide your juniors in reading the story and understanding the various metaphors used throughout the book. This guide thoroughly explains what kinds of questions you could ask your juniors, which hopefully would trigger interesting discussions with them. Here are some of the sample questions you could ask to provoke their thoughts:
Do you have collections of your own? If you had something really valuable in your house, where do you think you should keep it?
What does your room look like? What are your philosophies on knowing what to save and what to throw out?
Have you ever moved house, or have you lived in the same house your whole life? What if someone threw out your most precious things?
The Artifacts is not your ordinary storybook. It has beautiful illustration, excellent narration, and immersive background music, to accompany a deep, thought-provoking and resonant story that many of us could reflect upon. It also allows you to start meaningful discussions about principles, philosophies, and priorities in life. I highly recommend this app to parents who want to build these foundations in the lives of their juniors.