Have you ever heard of Charlie and Lola? It’s a BAFTA winning children’s TV series based on picture books by writer and illustrator Lauren Child, and revolves around siblings Charlie and Lola. Charlie is the patient older brother who is always ready to help the energetic Lola with all sorts of things, whether it’s taking care of her when she’s ill or persuading her to see the optician. The series incorporates family values and humor, and is suitable for preschool-aged kids.
If your family happens to be fans, now there’s an official Charlie and Lola app from BBC. Called Charlie & Lola: My Little Town, it’s a suite of activities designed to encourage learning through creativity.
Let’s Build a Town
The app Charlie & Lola: My Little Town is based on a TV episode of the same title, in which the two siblings get their hands on a toy town set. You will help Charlie and Lola set up a little town by playing six creative games. Playing each game will earn you various stickers that can later be used to decorate your town.
The first game is called Animal Creator. Using a variety of drawing tools, you are asked to color in various animals that will live in your little town. You can experiment with many colors, different pens, and even glitter to create the silliest animal you can imagine.
In the Dress Up game, you can dress up Charlie, Lola, and their friends Marv and Lotta. Pick from a wide range of costumes, which includes doctor, astronaut, animal suits, and more. You can also mix and match to create unique combinations.
The Building Creator is where you can construct buildings from colorful wooden blocks and decorate them with stickers. Interestingly, it has a physics engine that allows the blocks to move realistically when they are knocked about.
The Music Maker is a fun activity that lets you compose tunes by placing song birds onto a tree branch. Each bird has its own set of note and instrument, so you can create unique tunes by varying the order of the birds on the branch.
In Playmat Designer, you can create your own scenery from scratch or choose a template. Many scenes are available, including the mountains, the desert, and outer space. Your completed scene can then be used as the backdrop for your little town.
Finally, the Playmat Activity is where you can choose a backdrop and fill it with the things you’ve made in the other activities and the rewards you have collected. When you’re done, tap on the checkmark to watch your little town come to life with animation and sounds. You can also save a snapshot to your Camera Roll.
Parents Need to Know
Charlie & Lola: My Little Town is an open-ended gameplay with no high scores and no time limits. The app, available in British English, is suitable for preschoolers. Instructions are given in audio format, so no reading skills are necessary. You can create up to three user profiles in the app, allowing more than one child to save their progress independently.
Safety-wise, there is nothing to worry about in the app as it contains no ads and no in-app purchases. External links are hidden behind a gated section for parents, which also contains a tutorial on how to play in case you need assistance. The game is available for iPhone and iPad.
Things I Like
True to the books and the TV series, the app features collage-style graphics and animation that pair vibrant textures with bold, child-like drawings. The resulting visual is unique and very appealing. I like how the app also contains many details found in the My Little Town episode, such as the toy town box set and the drawings from Charlie’s imagination. It creates an immersive playing experience for fans of the show.
Playing the app, I get a sense of continuity throughout the games. I like that you can quickly access the next game from the current one without going back to the main screen. The animations are also smooth.
Finally, I am impressed by the quality of the narration. Voiced by Charlie and Lola themselves, the narrators will continuously drop comments as you play. For example, Lola can be heard saying, “Charlie, it’s all wiggly!” if you keep knocking off your blocks in the Building Creator game. They will also give you hints when you are idle, and praise your creations.