Some kids are just born to stand out regardless of how much they try to fit in, and that’s okay. It’s not always easy, so as parents it is our job to help our kids believe in themselves even if other people don’t.
My app pick for today is an interactive storybook that highlights the importance of accepting one’s quirks and talents, and using them to your best advantage. Titled Axel’s Chain Reaction, it centers on a young boy’s attempt to build a school project that would get his friends to see past his clumsy image.
The Clumsy Boy with Big Dreams
Third-grader Axel Jansen struggles to fit in at school. A creative tinkerer, he doesn’t enjoy sitting still for long periods of time and is easily distracted. As a result, he is often scolded by his teacher and alienated by his friends.
One day, opportunity arrives in the form of a student talent exhibition. Inspired by the work of Kinetic artists, Axel decides to build a moving sculpture that would show the entire school what he is capable of.
Several laborious weeks later, Axel comes to school with his finished project in hand. On his way to class, a classmate accidentally bumps into him, triggering a disastrous chain of events that leaves everyone yelling at each other.
Thinking on his feet, Axel decides that he will save the entire class’ project. But can he really do it, or will he make things even worse?
Parents Need to Know
A highly interactive book, Axel’s Chain Reaction lets kids discover hidden animations and dialogs throughout the story. Some interactions are actually required to proceed with the story: on one page, kids must pinch to release Axel’s glued fingers so he can continue working on his project. These interactive parts are marked with green sparkles.
The app also includes a mini game, videos of Kinetic sculptures, biographies of Kinetic artists, and step-by-step instructions should kids want to build a Kinetic sculpture on their own. It is mentioned in the app that the next update would bring about an open-ended mini game on domino effects.
Like most digital books nowadays, Axel’s Chain Reaction includes a narration, which can be turned off along with the sound effects if kids prefer to read by themselves. If the text is too small, kids can tap to enlarge it. There is also a glossary at the end of the book which highlights several keywords such as Kinetic Art and optical illusion.
The app is free of ads and in-app purchases. It does occasionally request readers to leave a rating on the App Store, but they must first solve a (quite difficult) mathematical problem to actually leave the app.
Axel’s Chain Reaction is currently only available in English.
Things I Like
Axel’s Chain Reaction is a well-written story that I believe will resonate with many readers. The plot is surprisingly realistic, in that thing don’t always go smoothly no matter how much we plan. But it also shows that as long as we use our heads and do our best, everything will work out in the end.
Furthermore, the characters are dynamic and likeable. I found it easy to sympathize with Axel as I, too, have experienced a time where I felt out of place. I appreciate that the author ended the story with Axel channeling his quirks into creative energy instead of suppressing them.
Outside character education, the app also introduces kids to Kinetic art and three prominent Kinetic artists. The hands-on activities, which include videos showing the kinetic art in action, make a great addition and extend the learning process outside the device.
Finally, I also want to point out the wide range of interactivity included in the app. Kids can touch, tilt, shake, and even take selfies at the end of the story. This is definitely an engaging app that will hold the reader’s attention for a while.
Axel’s Chain Reaction is an interactive story about an impulsive, distracted young boy who doesn’t quite seem to fit in at school. This is an immersive book filled with positive messages about perseverance, self-love, and optimism. There are plenty of interactions as well, along with mini games, videos, and step-by-step instructions for building your own Kinetic sculptures. Overall, it’s a wonderful read for kids ages 6-8.
App was provided for our honest review.
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