Imagine a storybook app that doesn’t have text in it. You can’t swipe left or right to navigate either. Many kids would probably dismiss it immediately because they are unable to interact and understand what the story is about.
That was exactly how my kids first reacted to David Wiesner’s Spot. But once I showed them that they can use the pinch-to-zoom gesture to navigate the app, they have really enjoyed its wordless world. Never before I experienced a reading session in which my kids asked so many questions. We ended up having lengthy, interesting discussions about how we could interpret the story.
Find the Portals and Zoom to Transport Yourself
You start your journey by zooming in on the ladybug to reveal a small house inside a lake on an island. Zooming in further will transport you inside the bug house, where you can find a desk stuffed with various items. Some of these items are actually portals that can transport you to five imaginative worlds created by David Wiesner. You may want to remember these portal items: the sandwich, the drawings, the newspaper article, the blue pencil, and the cookie.
Traveling across these worlds, you will find that they are, in fact, interconnected. You will find the same portal items again and again, allowing you to jump from one world to another.
The Five Worlds
The first world is accessible through the sandwich. On arrival you will find family of ladybugs having a nice lunch by the river. Zooming in on the spilled bowl of sugar will transport you to the Space Terminal, where you will find all sorts of characters from cats to aliens. Spread throughout the terminal are portals to all the other worlds.
The second world, which is accessible through the drawing, shows you a glorious cat parade in Katzaluna. Zooming in on a narrow alley would lead you to the big parade where you will find cats, aliens, mice, and even a dog watching the parade. Again, inside the parade you can find portals to all the other worlds. The key is to find the same objects on the desk inside the bug house.
Choosing the newspaper article will transport you to a rainy street where a number of bugs can be seen under black umbrellas. Zooming in further will transport you to the underwater world of Oceana Pume. There, you will find a group of starfish trying to decide whether they should pull the plug at the bottom of the ocean.
Choosing the yummy cookie will transport you into an underground city. Zooming in further will take you to see tiny robots hiding under a chair. In this comfortable place called Lower Rügg, you will find the cute dust bunnies.
Finally, choosing the blue pencil will transport you to a swarm of insects having fun in a ski resort. Zooming in further will allow you to see the internal of a computer chip inside a snowflake, which is actually a city of transistors called Mekanikos and is inhabited by cats and robot shoppers.
Parents Need to Know
Spot is unlike other storybooks. Instead of following a linear plot, the experience can be different every time depending on your choices. It’s a visual adventure where readers are encouraged to be creative with their interpretations of the story; the possibility is endless.
David Wiesner’s Spot is suitable for kids ages 3+ who can comfortably perform the pinch-to-zoom gesture on their own. Older kids would probably ask many questions seeing as they can freely explore the worlds without having to following a particular structure.
David Wiesner, known for his unique storytelling style, has won three prestigious Caldecott Medals in the US for his picture books. In this app he uses images instead of words to set up characters, situations, and environments. The story may or may not reveal itself depending on how you choose to navigate across the worlds.
The Free Companion E-Book
Be sure to download Spot’s free companion e-book, David Wiesner’s Spot: A Parent and Educator Guide, on the iBookstore. It includes creative storytelling prompts for parents and unique writing and classroom activities for teachers. I also learned a lot about the inspiration behind the app; David was inspired by the pinch-to-zoom gesture introduced by the iOS devices. He decided to explore an idea he has had since his art school days where a world is actually a very small part of another world.
Pairing beautiful illustrations with smooth transitions, navigating through David’s imaginative worlds is a pleasing experience. Because it’s a wordless world, everyone of all ages and mother tongues can enjoy it.
David Wiesner’s Spot is a unique app that allows you to make active choices to create your own stories. Using the pinch-to-zoom gesture to navigate within and across five different worlds, it creates a unique and immersive storytelling experience unlike that of a typical storybook. If your kids are open to stories with non-linear plots, this app will stir up imagination and hone their storytelling skills.
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.