One thing I know about juniors is that they love adventures. I would argue that even adults enjoy a little escapade once in a while. The thrill of an unexpected end, the joy of the journey, and the discoveries along the way are all worth the time and effort that we gave.
Even when we can't go on an adventure ourselves, the story would still be interesting for us to hear. Today, I will share about a unique iPad app that promises to take your juniors along for an adventure to discover the origins of electricity.
The Adventures of Alex: Electricity is a unique and beautiful storybook app that tells the story of an inquisitive boy named Alex who is on a journey to discover the origins of electricity. The story starts from inside his own home as Alex traces the electricity socket where he would plug cables to give electrical power to all the stuff he has, such as radio, refrigerator, microwave, blender, lights, TV, and computer. As he traces the wires, he finds that the electricity that powers his home comes from the power lines outside his house.
Packing up the things he needs into his backpack, Alex decides to go on an adventure with his cat and dog to discover the origins of the electricity by tracing the power lines. They travel over the fields, plains, hills, and mountains until they reach a power plant. As they enter, they see giant turbines spin round and round to generate electricity.
Alex is eager to know what the inside of these turbines look like. Surprisingly, inside the structure are several naughty children who are forced to run to power the turbines. Apparently they are there because they don't eat their vegetables. Knowing this, Alex is determined to eat his vegetables as he gets home because he doesn't want to become one of the naughty children who are assigned to generate electricity.
What parents need to know
You must be wondering whether the last part of the story was actually written that way, but I assure you that it is 100% correct. There isn't any scientific explanation about what actually happens inside the turbines; instead, you will find the aforementioned shocking ending. Wayne Hartman, the developer of this app, explains on his website that the storyline originates from a creative writing class that he took.
The genesis for this interactive storybook sprung from a creative writing class. I wanted to do an app that was more than just a simple utility app and decided to sink some serious investment in something that would totally knock the socks of off users.
Wayne really puts forth his unique sense of humor into many elements within the app - from the small details inside Alex's home, such as the existence of a mouse trap and an illustration of what is inside the walls of the house; to the joke about Alex mistreating a very tall plant as a power plant. I think you need to accompany your juniors as they read to let them know which ones are real and which ones are merely comical renditions.
The narration for the app supports two languages, i.e. English and Spanish. Setting this option on the starting page would activate both the story narration and the voiceover that will speak the names of the things that you touch. Not only would your juniors learn about many new vocabularies, they would learn them in two languages, too.
What I like about the app
The Adventures of Alex: Electricity has a really colorful and beautiful set of illustrations, made by Excel Florendia, throughout the storybook. As what you would expect from any apps aimed at juniors, this app features a great level of interactivity where you can tap on various objects on screen to learn what they are called. You will get a wiggling animation, a label indicating the object's name, and the narrator's voice telling you what that object is.
The app has a great collection of soundtracks accompanying you as you read through the storybook. Megan Randa - a composer who specializes in music for films, TV, games and apps - wrote nine original tracks for the app. They are professionally done and make the overall experience of reading Alex's story a great one. You can preview the soundtrack on iTunes even before purchasing this app. I highly recommend you to listen to them.
I love the way the developer use sliding pages, i.e. pages that slides to the right or to the top, to show drawings that are just too big to fit in one iPad screen. This sets the app apart from other typical storybook apps where you are bound by the screen real estate limitation of the device. Using this approach, you can view Alex's living room and his neighborhood in panorama view. You can also peek inside what could possibly be the walls of Alex's home by sliding to the right. Everything seems very intuitive. I really appreciate apps that go the extra mile and break the boundaries to deliver a better experience for the users.
The Adventures of Alex: Electricity is beautifully-illustrated, nicely-written, and junior-friendly app with great interactivity and engaging soundtracks. It is carefully designed with a unique sense of humor and a pocketful of imagination. I can now testify that Wayne Hartman has successfully knocked my socks off with this app.