My app pick for today is an illustrated storybook app based on The Nut Job, an animated film with a heist storyline. It’s scheduled to premiere on January 17.
The main character in this story is Surly the Squirrel. He is a different kind of squirrel, a bit clever, and likes to do things his own way. Even though there are many other furry animals living in Liberty Park, Surly likes to live by himself. Buddy the Rat is Surly’s only friend.
Things get even worse for Surly when he tries to raid a nut cart. His attempt fails so badly that it blows up an old oak tree where the other animals stored their food for the upcoming winter. The animals are furious, and led by Racoon the park leader, unanimously vote to banish Surly from the park.
With Buddy as his loyal companion, Surly is forced to survive on the busy street of Oakton. Fortunately, there’s a specialty shop on that street that sells all kinds of nuts, Maury’s Nut Shop, which Surly refers to as the Lost City of Nut-lantis. He imagines that he would no longer need to search for food for many years to come.
Apparently, there is also another squirrel targeting the same shop. Her name is Andie, and she has been sent by the Liberty Park residents to find replacement foods for the ones blown up by Surly. She confronts Surly and Buddy, and convinces them to work together.
Just when Surly agrees to work with Andie and her team for The Nut Job, other complexities arise. First, the shop owner is part of a group of gangsters who wants to dig into the bank across the street, blow up the vault, and exchange the bags of money with bags of nuts.
On the other end, after knowing Andie’s plan, Raccoon fears that he would lose control of the park if there is enough foods for everyone. He decides to hire a gang of rats to sabotage The Nut Job and secure his leadership in the Liberty Park.
Can Surly, Andie, and the team complete The Nut Job?
Parents Need to Know
The Nut Job is not an interactive storybook app. Instead, it’s just a simple illustrated ebook. You can’t tap on the objects, tilt your device, or even swipe to navigate through the pages. But this doesn’t prevent readers from enjoying the storyline or the bonus activities included in the app.
One of the activities included is coloring pages. The app has six coloring pages and one blank page. Juniors can use five different brush types and the plus/minus button to zoom in/out of the page.
There’s also a trailer for the movie embedded in this app.
Things I Like
The app includes four mini games with varying difficulties. The first game is a whack-a-mole game called Whack-a-Rat, which is relatively simple for juniors ages 3+.
At the other end of the difficulty spectrum is Squirrel Bounce, which requires juniors to drag a floating platform to bounce the nuts into the target area. After playing it for a while, I’d say only juniors ages 5+ would be able to play the game with a good chance of success.
The two other games are Acorn Scramble, a catapult game similar to Angry Birds but with specific targets; and Gone Nuts, a game similar to Bejeweled but uses nuts instead of shiny stones.
One thing that makes the app memorable is its inclusion of comic strips depicting the background story for each game. I’m positive many juniors would find the comic strip interesting.
The Nut Job is a storybook app that focuses on adapting the movie storyline into an ebook with mini games. Judging from the storyline and the difficulty of the mini games, I’d recommend juniors ages 5+ to read and play with parents companion.
App was provided for our honest review.