Grammy Award-Winning artist Alicia Keys is a woman of many talents: she’s a singer-songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, humanitarian. Now, she’s also added “app co-creator” to her portfolio, courtesy of her The Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee franchise.
Plotted as a series of interactive storybooks, The Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee follow the adventures of a young girl as she faces everyday challenges with some guidance from her wise grandmother. The apps feature 3D animation, mini games, and original songs written by Keys herself.
The first volume, Blue Moon, was released at the end of 2012. However, today I will be reviewing the second volume, Mookey, which was only released earlier this year.
Like all Mama Mae books, Mookey begins with LeeLee coming to her grandmother for advice. In this particular story, she considers standing up for a fellow schoolmate who gets bullied for being “strange”. Mama Mae proceeds to tell her about a similarly strange boy, called Bali, and how he was the bravest person she knew.
Living in the lush jungle of India, Bali is an imaginative young boy who is misunderstood by his peers. His pushy cousin, Ankita, constantly makes fun of him for befriending an imaginary tiger named Mookey, but when a rhino suddenly appears to attack them, Ankita learns that maybe Mookey is not so imaginary after all.
Parents Need to Know
Mookey features interactive animations that compliment the storyline. Kids can tap or swipe on the characters on screen to, for example, make Bali spin on his feet or play hide and seek with Mookey the tiger.
Additionally, kids can participate in a couple of mini activities within the book. The first activity, Pungi Match, is a musical memory game featuring an Indian traditional wind instrument. The second activity, found at the end of the book, lets kids celebrate Holi by throwing colorful powder at Bali, Ankita, and Mookey.
For emerging readers, the app includes professional narration by singer/actress Della Reese as Mama Mae. It also has word highlighting, as well as a page navigator for jumping to any of the book’s 22 pages.
Mookey is available as a free download, with a one-time in-app purchase to unlock the full story. Parents can register for a Bento Connect account from within the app to receive a free coloring book, get updates about new releases from the developer, and earn rewards by achieving goals within the app. The app doesn’t contain third-party ads.
Things I Like
Mookey is an enjoyable story rich in moral values. Through Bali’s story, the app promotes self-acceptance and anti-bullying, while through LeeLee’s relationship with Mama Mae, it instills the value of family bonds. As a bonus, the app also provides a glimpse into Indian culture by introducing kids to the Holi festival and pungi.
The app itself is nicely done; it combines colorful 3D graphics/animations with Indian-inspired sounds to create a rich reading experience. I like that the interactive parts are story-driven, although I do wish they are present in all pages. The additional activities also make a nice touch.
Mama Mae: Mookey by Alicia Keys is a rich app that promotes self acceptance and anti-bullying. It also introduces kids to traditional Indian culture, particularly the Holi festival and wind-up instrument, pungi. The app has excellent reading options, and features 3D graphics and story-driven interactivity. A couple of mini activities also keep kids engaged. Overall, it’s a wonderful app that I would recommend for kids ages 4 and up.
If you liked this app, you might also want to check out the first installment in The Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee series here.
App was provided for our honest review.
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