Author: Anne Scully
Illustrator: Robert Scully
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Number of pages: 20
Recommended age: 3+
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Sammy wants a pet snake, but has to prove he’s ready to take on the responsibility by caring for a “practice pet.” As you read you can help Sammy show he’s ready for the responsibility of a new pet.
**Read: A full interactive experience with animations and sounds.
**Create: Change all the words to create your own version of the story.
**Share: Share your creation by posting to Facebook and Twitter or send to friends on email. Add your favourite page to Pinterest!
My Thoughts: For those of you not familiar with Storypanda books, here is a little background on this innovative book publishing and distributing company. Storypanda publishes interactive children’s books on mobile devices (specifically the iPad – although I personally hope this will be expanded to Android devices too!) Storypanda books feature minimal interaction points, animations, and sounds on each page in an effort to stick to the classic feel of books. One of the great features of Storypanda books on the iPad is that, after reading, you can create your own version of the story, re-writing it in whichever way you like. Specific to the Practice Pets, families can choose activities from set options that the main character Sammy and his pet snake Rex can do together. For example, you can choose for them to play “in the sand,” “in the water,” “on swings,” “on monkey bars,” or on the “merry-go-round.” How fun is this for increasingly tech-savvy young children!?
Aside from the innovative interactive nature of the book, Practice Pets features a cute story with a good life lesson regarding the responsibilities that come with caring for a pet. When Sammy’s parents agree to let their son “practice” caring for a pet to see if he would be responsible enough to do so with a real one, he inadvertently chooses a real snake who snuck into the toy snake bin in the toy store. But when Rex starts to feel unwell, Sammy takes charge of the situation and does everything he can to make his pet feel better demonstrating that he is indeed capable of handling pet care responsibilities. I think this story is a great spring-board for discussion around what it means to take care of an animal. I’m sure most parents are asked at one time or another by their children if they can have a dog, cat, hamster, fish, or some other pet.
The illustrations by Robert Scully are absolutely adorable. The images consist of the use of bright and sometimes unexpected colours and what looks like hand drawn elements overlayed on the page to create a visually dynamic and interesting scene for each page. I love how contrast is created on many of the pages using a dark blue/purple for either the foreground or the background and the characters in their own unique more brightly coloured hues popping out, drawing the eye to the most important features on the page. That being said, there are a few surprises hiding on each page as well. I just loved the illustrations!
My bottom line: I love the concept of interactive children’s books. We even owned a few of our own when my kids were little (ok, maybe we still own those!). However, those “interactive” books were hard copies that my children could manipulate by opening flaps or pushing buttons to make noises. This is a whole new level of interaction and the possibilities are endless. To fully disclose, I cannot comment on the interactive portion of this book because I do not own an iPad. My review copy consisted of an electronic copy of the book. I can report that I thought the story was adorable; I love the theme of the book dealing with pet care responsibility; and, the images were absolutely beautiful and innovative. I would recommend this book and other Storypanda books to families with children 3 years and older.
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. ***
More Information About The Practice Pets and Storypanda
Please visit Storypanda for more information, http://storypanda.com/