Jack and the Beanstalk is an interactive read-along story-book app from Nosy Crow designed for young language learners. The app combines the concept of the e-book with elements of assistive technology and interactive media. With a text highlighting feature, moving characters, and touch screen controls, users are thrown headfirst into the engaging Jack and the Beanstalk’s narrative. Once users climb the beanstalk, they enter the giant’s castle. Once inside, users control “Jack” as they maneuver the three floors of the castle, helping frightened characters solve puzzles. When users solve a puzzle they are awarded a key which allows them to open up another door. After all keys are collected and puzzles solves, users have to escape from the castle and down the beanstalk, with the giant following close behind. Although the story works for all audiences, we recommend this $4.99 interactive narrative to users ages 4 to 8.
All of the narration, including asides from some of the more minor characters appears as text at the bottom of the screen. While the narrator excitedly reads each sentence, the words become highlighted in a red font. This makes it easier for users to commit their attention to the text and follow along with the flow of the story. Because users participate in and must ultimately solve the puzzles, they are constantly engaged in a more "hands-on" type of storytelling. The vivid colors, animated dialogue, and interactive puzzles keep users focused on the tale and keen on turning pages.
The giant's castle has three floors with three rooms on each one. Behind each door users will find a new character who is obviously frightened by the giant's presence. If users help the characters solve the puzzle, they will receive a key to unlock the next door. Each puzzle is different; for example, users need quick reaction time when shoo-ing bats out of the attic on the third floor, good memory skills when memorizing musical notes, and good flexibility skills when reassembling a broken mirror. Since users have to utilize many different types of skills while keeping the continuity of the story in mind, they must adapt and adopt new strategies with each new puzzle they encounter.
The word highlighting feature is a very helpful reading tool. It prevents users from falling behind the narrator's pace, while teaching users spelling and pronunciation skills. Jack and the Beanstalk by Nosy Crow keeps it's story compelling and memorable with puzzles, colorful characters, a fearsome giants, and of course the user-controlled "Jack." Users truly feel that they are part of the story, as they must maneuver and manipulate Jack through the castle and eventually down the beanstalk to get back home. The interactive narrative keeps users engaged much longer than more traditional types of reading exercises.
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