Have you ever heard of the huia bird? The largest of the New Zealand forest birds, the huia were majestic creatures with curved beaks and white-tipped tail feathers. Their extinction in the early 20th century is considered a great tragedy in New Zealand’s conservation history.
12 Huia Birds is an interactive storybook app that relives the tale of the huia birds to a modern generation. Its aim? To gently remind us to care for our environment today and in the years to come.
12 Huia Birds
The story opens with 12 huia birds perching and singing on branches. But their peaceful days are soon interrupted when new settlers arrive: first the Maori with dogs and rats, then the Europeans with more dogs, cats, and foxes. With each arrival, a huia bird is lost.
One of the highlights of the story is the interactive hotspots on every page. In lieu of conventional arrow buttons, readers must tap or swipe these hotspots to move the story forward. This not only engages the readers but also makes for clever transitions between scenes.
The story itself is filled with animation, music, and sound on every page. It is narrated in rhymes in English by New Zealand actor George Henare, and is also available in Maori. Optionally, you can read the story by yourself.
Part picture book and part information guide, 12 Huia Birds includes a “Discover” section where readers can learn more about the huia birds. Among others, readers can observe how the real huia birds look like in 360-degree view, listen to their many calls, read an in-depth field guide, and learn 12 ways to help wild birds. Additionally, readers can play 3 types of memory games.
Parents Need to Know
12 Huia Birds is made with the assistance of NZOnAir. Available as a free app, it aims to introduce the huia birds to a modern audience and raise awareness of the impact of growing human settlements on the environment. For those interested, a blog chronicles the making of the app and contains fascinating entries, like how they recreated the sounds of the huia from on old notations (the birds vanished before recordings of their calls could be made). It also has draft sketches, behind-the-scene photos, and more.
The app has no third-party advertising and no in-app purchases. All external links are secured behind a parental gate. No Internet connection is necessary to use the app.
Things I Like
Beneath its vibrant visuals, 12 Huia Birds is a cautionary tale about what happens when we don’t concern ourselves with the state of our environment. It’s poignant and well written with a dash of humor. After reading the story together with your kids, you can discuss with them what can be done to preserve our environment and prevent more species from disappearing.
In addition to the story, the “Discover” section is a valuable inclusion. There are many things you can learn here, for example, what the huia birds eat, where they live, and how they breed. My favorites, however, are the 360-degree view of the birds and the keyboard of bird calls.
12 Huia Birds is an environment-conscious picture book that describes the disappearance of a native bird of New Zealand in the early 20th century. Included alongside the poignant tale is an informative section where readers can learn more about the huia birds and find practical tips to protect wild birds. An interactive 360-degree view and mini games round up this high-quality app. Well worth checking out for ages 4+.
App was provided for our honest review.
About Yoozoo Books
Yoozoo creates fun and engaging apps and books that combine the craft and art of storytelling with interactivity. Their stories and digital experiences present learning opportunities in a fun and playful package.
You should also check out their other app we’ve reviewed:
Have You Heard is a comical tale about barnyard whispers that will entertain readers of all ages. This polished app features vibrant artwork and an excellent narration by actor Rhys Darby. Also included is a fun memory game that tests whether you are paying attention to the story.