Do you ever wonder what life is like for pets who have been abandoned? In the book app Broadway Barks, we follow a lonely dog named Douglas who longs to find a family after being abandoned by his previous owner.
Before he became a stray, Douglas used to live in an apartment. He was taken for walks, given dinner, and praised whenever he did something good. Now, he lives alone in a park with no one to care for him, but he waits for someone to take him home.
One day, Douglas befriends a kind red-haired lady who enrols him in Broadway Barks, a charity event where abandoned animals are presented on stage to have a chance at being adopted. Douglas nervously does his best to sing and dance on stage.
Off the stage, Douglas feels sad and unwanted because the audience laughed during his performance. However, the story soon takes a happy turn as a little girl comes to take him home. She renames him Kramer, and the two live happily together.
Broadway Barks is adapted from a New York Times bestseller book of the same name by award-winning actress Bernadette Peters. In addition to penning the story, Peters also narrates the app as Douglas/Kramer.
The illustrations in the app are colorful and nicely animated, with several interactive hotspots on every page. These hotspots are marked by glowing circles, and you can tap on them to interact with the characters or objects in the story.
Like most digital books, the app comes with two reading modes: Autoplay and Read to Me. In Autoplay, the app moves through the story automatically from start to finish, while in Read to Me you have the opportunity to explore each page. Both modes have word highlighting.
Also included in the app are two extra sections to enjoy after reading. The first one, Douglas' Showtime, is a simple mini game where you help Douglas dance on stage. The second one, Kramer's Song, is a relaxing song written and sung by Peters herself, along with a video montage of the illustrations from the story made to look like an old movie.
Parents Need to Know
Broadway Barks is a charming story that raises awareness about homeless animals. Written from the point of view of Douglas/Kramer the dog, the story invites readers to think about how sad it is to be an abandoned pet.
If you have pets in the household, this app is a great way to start discussions with your juniors about how they should treat their furry friends. But even if you don‘t, the app still makes an enjoyable read for juniors ages four through eight.
It is interesting to learn that Broadway Barks is an actual event held annually in New York City. Founded by Peters with her friend Mary Tyler Moore, the event has rescued hundreds of shelter animals. The physical book and the app were specially made to promote the charity.
Things I Like
As a dog person, I have to say that I fell in love with Broadway Barks quite easily. However, outside my bias, I think the app is still pretty charming.
Peters made a great choice writing the story in Douglas' perspective, and the simple vocabularies only make it more believable. Douglas as a character is also very endearing, and the whole time I was reading the story I couldn't help but wish for him to find a loving family.
Peters also did a stellar job with the narration, voicing Douglas in a way that is human, yet dog-like at the same time. Her sweet and emotional storytelling just draws you in and makes you sympathize with the character.
Finally, I also enjoy looking at the beautiful mixed-media illustrations by Liz Murphy, as well as the smooth animations. I appreciate that the app has enough interactive elements to keep the readers engaged, but not too many to take away from the lovely story. The additional activities are also nice to have, and I can imagine kids coming back to the song activity before bedtime.
Overall, Broadway Barks is a very enjoyable read for readers young and old. The story is well-written, the narration is one of the best I have ever heard, and the illustrations are just pleasing to the eyes. Plus, the thought that the app promotes a great cause just warms you up on the inside. I highly recommend it.
If you are interested in purchasing Broadway Barks, please note that the app has separate versions for iPhone/iPod and iPad. The banner below is for the iPad version. If you wish to buy the iPhone version, please use this link instead.
Note: Thank you to CJ Educations for providing us with a promo code for Broadway Barks. We woof it!