Our US-based readers may be familiar (or even love) the Little Critter series. Created by Mercer Mayer, this classic children's book series follows the adventures of a loveable anthropomorphic furry character and his family.
One book in the series is Little's Critter The Trip, about the Critter family's road trip to Lake Wakatookee. On the way they encounter several obstacles like rush hour, roadblocks, and even a flat tire, but thankfully Little Critter is always prepared. They manage to get to their destination in the end, and have some fun on the way.
Now, you can also enjoy the same story on your iOS and Android devices. Released by publisher Silver Dolphin Books are two “trip”-themed apps to entertain juniors anywhere: The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure and The Trip Little Critter GamePak.
The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure
The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure is basically the digital, more interactive version of the book. It has two reading modes: Reading Adventure and Just Read.
The Reading Adventure provides you with a nice narration by Little Critter, word highlighting for early readers, and plenty of interactive hotspots on each page. These hotspots are marked with colorful dots, and trigger various things when tapped.
For example, blue dots denote additional dialogs and animations, while green dots hint at items that you can collect in Little Critter’s backpack to use in later pages.
There are also red dots that you can tap to bring up alphabet flashcards. These cards reinforce all the letters in the alphabet, and can be accessed any time by tapping on the Menu button on each page.
In addition, the app also contains six mini games, such as rearranging letters in a word, finding the next item in a pattern, and matching colors with their names. You earn a gem for completing a mini game, and collecting all six gems will unlock a bonus game.
The other reading mode, Just Read does exactly what its name says. It strips down the interactive parts and mini games, so you can focus on the story. Unfortunately some of the extra dialogs in the Reading Adventure do not appear as they are included in the animations, so the story in this mode is not as cohesive.
The Trip Little Critter GamePak
The second app that I‘m reviewing is The Trip Little Critter GamePak, which was released as a companion for the Reading App but is just as good to stand on its own. It features eleven engaging learning games that build various skills, including math, reading, and recognizing colors.
The games are divided into two sections, GamePak and Digistix. Each section has five games, plus one bonus arcade-style spotting-the-difference game in GamePak. Below is a quick summary of the game types that you can find in the app.
Dot-to-Dot is a classic connect-the-dots game styled to fit the Little Critters theme. Features the numbers 1-10, 1-20, and even the letters A-Z.
There is a variety of matching games in the app, including matching pictures to words and colors to color names. Likewise, there are also several puzzle games. The more unique one involves completing a maze design.
Counting, as you may guess, involves counting certain things, for example: “How many chickens in the picture?” or “How many lily pads do you see?”
Some of the mini games also test your ability to recognize letters and words. In one game, you rearrange letters to form a correct word. In another, you are tasked to find the objects that start with a specific letter.
A special mini game worth highlighting is Play. Here, you can drag and drop “digistix” — basically little stickers that feature Little Critter characters — onto a scene and watch them animate. The interesting bit is that the stickers animate differently when put in different places.
For example, in the beach scene, you can put Little Critter next to the water to watch him get splashed, or next to the snack bar so he can order a hot dog.
If you are interested in trying out the digistix feature, the Reading Adventure app has a simple demo in the protected Parents Section.
Parents Need to Know
While The Trip Little Critter Reading Adventure and The Trip Little Critter GamePak were released together, parents should know that they two separate apps. They also feature different mini games although they are similar in types.
I also would like to mention that although the apps are available for both the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch, I strongly recommend downloading the iPad version if you have the device. This is because some of the mini games feature small details, such as the dots in dot-to-dot, which would be a little difficult to control in smaller screens.
Based on the developer's recommendation and my experience with the apps, I find that both Little Critter’s The Trip apps are suitable for juniors ages three to seven.
Things I Like
After spending some time with both Little Critter apps, I have to say that they are both great apps for juniors.
First of all, the Reading Adventure app is a terrific way to get juniors excited to read, especially with all the interactive elements and “hidden” animations/dialogs that make the app like a simple cartoon.
One other thing that I noted is that the app‘s length also makes it an excellent distraction on your own road trips! Reading the story in Reading Adventure mode took me around 40 minutes, and that did not include revisiting the interactions and games.
The GamePak is also a wonderful app as a companion or standalone. I like how the games have varying degrees of difficulty, so there is a challenge for every kid in the targeted age range. The Digistix is also a unique and fun feature, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for more scenes and stickers in the future!
Little Critter's The Trip series are two excellent apps to get your kids excited to read. Although released as a duo, the apps are great on their own and will provide long hours of entertainment. Longtime fans of the Little Critter series will love these apps for sure, but I can see new readers enjoying them as well. I would highly recommend them both.
Apps were provided for our honest review.
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