Finding a good Christmas app is not an easy task. I have been scouring the App Store for the past two weeks and have tried countless Christmas-themed apps. We have been sharing some of the best ones that we've found, but I believe this particular one is perfect to close this year's Christmas holiday season.
Moving Christmas is a beautiful storybook app produced by Brandon Camp, a Hollywood writer, producer and director, out of frustration that many great works in Hollywood end up nowhere. He and his partner, Jonathan Osborne, decided that there are other ways to bring stories to life, such as via an iPad app.
The story takes place in our modern days, where global warming has started to affect the North Pole, the home of our beloved Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves. On Nov 23, the Earth's pollution melts the ice, destroying their home. Santa decides to move their workshop to the only place on Earth with more ice: the South Pole.
Santa then decides to contact the only person who can possibly help them move their workshop to South Pole. It's Frank Duffy, the mover of the impossible. He has been on Santa's Nice List since his birth. Frank and his dog, Bricks, are known for always doing their best for their clients, which are mostly not human. Once, he even helped a beached whale transfer back into the deep sea.
Ezekiel, the eldest of the elves, is not really impressed with Frank's resume. In fact, throughout the story, Ezekiel always acts as an antagonist to Frank by underestimating his capability to overcome the problems they encounter throughout the journey. Santa decides to ignore Ezekiel's pessimistic concerns, and rides his sleighs to see Frank himself.
Despite being afraid of flying, Frank, Bricks and their Monster truck are able to ride behind Santa's sleigh to the North Pole. The next morning, Frank immediately goes to work, packing in all the toys into boxes. Even the solar-powered helicopter toys that no kids seem interested in are included. Frank really stands up to his policy of "No Box Left Behind".
Unfortunately, Frank is not a very good planner. He forgets to check the weather forecast before leaving the North Pole. A bad storm causes them to be stranded in the New York City, in the middle of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Quick to react, Frank offers a new plan by going to Florida and going by the sea route. Unfortunately, due to bad traffic, they are forced to use an air balloon ride.
Nothing seems to go right with Frank's plan. His air balloon ride takes them way off course into the Aborigine's territory in Australia. Fortunately, Mrs. Claus's ability to speak in 357 languages saves them from being attacked by the Aborigine natives. After saying goodbye, they immediately continue their journey via sea route, using Monster's ability to transform into a sailing boat.
With less than a week left before Christmas, Hurricance Ebenezer hits them. While they are floating on the big ocean, the beached whale Frank helped earlier comes to the rescue. The friendly whale takes them to their destination.
Two days before Christmas, another problem arises, causing Frank to feel down again. The reindeers who are responsible for taking Santa and the gifts around the world are too tired after going on such a long journey. Fortunately, Santa encourages Frank not to give up. He always has a strong belief in Frank.
Finally, Bricks comes to the rescue. Frank's loyal sidekick suggests Frank to use the solar-powered helicopter toys that no kids want to power Santa's sleigh. With these toys, Frank is able to save Santa's plan for Christmas. This great success leads his reputation to skyrocket. Shortly after Christmas, two government agents come to visit Frank and offer him a job to move Area 51 to a new location.
What Parents Need to Know
Moving Christmas has a subtle eco-friendly theme by showing how pollution has caused the ice in the North Pole to melt and how solar-powered technologies might be able to save us in the future. I really like the fact that the themes are not shoved into the storyline; rather, they take place in the background and do not steal the spotlight from Frank Duffy as the main character. If you tap on the blue recycle icon that shows up in several pages, you will get additional information about the terms introduced in the story such as pollution, solar-powered, and hurricane.
The story also features two loveable characters, Frank Duffy and Santa Claus. The latter acts like a good parent by encouraging Frank each time he feels down and about to give up. On the other hand, Frank is shown as a good role model for our juniors because he has a good work ethic, a strong sense of responsibility, and a great determination. Reading the story along with your juniors could help trigger these discussions with them.
Finally, this is a storybook that is meant to be told, not to read. The narration pass by very quickly and even though juniors as young as 4 years old would enjoy the story, I am doubtful that they would be able to catch all the sentences. Nevertheless, this is an excellent story to be enjoyed by all family members, even the parents. I personally find that AirPlay-mirroring this onto an Apple TV works like a charm.
What I Like About the App
Moving Christmas definitely has a high production value. The beautiful illustrations, fun animations, excellent background music and sound effects, and excellent use of typography have made the story very enjoyable. I also enjoy the 360-degree augmented reality-like feature where you can turn your iPad as if it were a lens to see the colorful Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
I love the little details incorporated in the story, such as green socks with matching initials, the slouchy Bricks character and the teaser for their upcoming adventure of trying to move Area 51. I'm really a fan of quality products and I believe Brandon Camp has successfully achieved what he's been longing for (as explained in a recent interview):
"We have to believe that if we create a quality product and if we create characters that are truly memorable, that eventually people will find them" - Brandon Camp
I do wonder if they would ever try to create a TV series from Frank and Bricks. That would be lovely.
Moving Christmas is definitely one of the best storybooks on the App Store. It has a great storyline, loveable characters, and plenty of humor. It can also act as an excellent learning tools for juniors to be conscious of what is happening to Mother Earth. It is a wonderful story to read all year round, but I highly recommend you to get the app now so you can share the stories with your friends and family during Christmas gathering.
If you love the story and would like to get it in another form factor, you can also get the physical 64-page storybook on Amazon.