When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Sesame Street, the popular children TV series. I learned many things from it and until now, I still remember some of the main characters, such as Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster. Now that I have my own sons, I still enjoy the show whenever I catch it on TV.
Today, I will share about a storybook app that is built around the Cookie Monster character, entitled The Great Cookie Thief.
The story takes place at a saloon in an old western town. While the piano plays in the background, we hear about the terrible problem that has been troubling everyone in the town, including the Sheriff. When a young boy comes and asks about what happens, the Sheriff points him out to the Wanted poster showing an image of The Great Cookie Thief.
Apparently, The Great Cookie Thief has been stealing cookies from nearby bakeries, causing everyone to miss their cookies. As they discuss about the problem, someone who looks like The Great Cookie Thief enters the saloon. When the young boy points out that there is a resemblance between said person, who is actually the Cookie Monster, with the image in the Wanted poster, the Sheriff asks you, the reader, to help him point out the resemblances.
After you find all three resemblances - the black felt cowboy hat, the red bandana, and the wide smiling mouth - everyone immediately recognizes the newcomer as The Great Cookie Thief. Unfortunately, the Cookie Monster is smart. He immediately changes the image drawn in the poster so that it is different from him. Depending on the random tidbit that the storyline would insert here, the Cookie Monster may draw glasses, a goatee, pigtails, or a moustache on the poster.
As soon as everyone is fooled, the Cookie Monster runs away from the saloon, leaving many cookies behind. This alerts everyone that the Cookie Monster is indeed The Great Cookie Thief. They want to chase him, but apparently The Great Cookie Thief has run away to another town.
What parents need to know
Even though the storyline seems to be very simple, the developer is able to deliver a very fun reading experience to the readers. They seem to have a great sense of humor. Their decision to go with the old western cowboy talk throughout the app also adds to the overall enjoyment of reading the story.
In addition to the reading activity, the app also includes a creative activity, i.e. creating your own Wanted poster. You can use the photos that you have in your Camera Roll or take a new one, add some stickers, and paint some colors onto it. You can then print the poster via AirPrint or send it via email.
The app also has a dedicated parental zone where parents can find more information about how their juniors can benefit from the app. It includes description of the app features, discussion tips that parents can use, and several other features that are locked from the junior's hands such as sending posters via email and unlocking in-app purchases.
What I like about the app
I really like the way the developer cares about idle time. While it is true that most juniors would eagerly tap on everything that is available on screen, sometimes they wait and do nothing. They can also get distracted by other things that are happening in their surroundings. Having the conversation to continue playing with animation and fantastic voice overs, I believe this gives the readers a sense that this is not your typical storybook app -- I would say that it is closer to a cartoon.
One thing that I found accidentally while using the app was that the app supports some degree of device tilting. If you tilt your iPad/iPhone as soon as the narration for the page ends, you will see the characters move slightly as though they are viewed from a different angle of the room. This gives the scene a sense of depth.
Finally, I love the fact that you can have slightly different tidbits or sequences of the storyline each time you read it. First, you can choose to tap any one of the three resemblences in any order, which will cause the app to show slightly different dialogue sequences for the next three pages. Second, you can reread the 10th page any number of times you like and it will show different ways of how Cookie Monster would change the poster image to avoid getting recognized. These little details help make the storybook app a great one to enjoy.
The Great Cookie Thief is a fun storybook app featuring the smart Cookie Monster as the antagonist. It has a strong old western cowboy theme, a great sense of humor and a fun activity of creating your own Wanted poster. You can also get a lot of insights into how you could use this storybook app as a tool that can help you trigger discussions with your juniors. Regardless whether your junior is familiar with the Cookie Monster character or not, I highly recommend you to get this app.