Kung Fu Panda-themed iPhone app a good bedtime story for kids

Dec 6, 2010
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In the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Storybook iPhone app, Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman reprise their roles from the popular movie in-app, and that really gives it the power to engross young children who are fans of the film, as well as its recent holiday special on TV. This narrated, interactive storybook app ($2.99) probably […]

In the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Storybook iPhone app, Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman reprise their roles from the popular movie in-app, and that really gives it the power to engross young children who are fans of the film, as well as its recent holiday special on TV. This narrated, interactive storybook app ($2.99) probably won’t appeal to anyone but small kids, however.

FrogDogMedia’s new storybook app is like having one of those read-along books, but on your iPhone or iPad. The app will run on its own if you let it, reading its story aloud while flipping pages when appropriate. It also includes the option to disable the narration and read it yourself, flipping the pages using virtual buttons.

The app works well for bedtime storytelling, or for an easy distraction on a car trip to keep kids busy. Having Black and Hoffman give voices also goes a long way to making the app feel like a part of the lore of the series, and kids who are fans of the series are sure to appreciate main characters reading their dialogue.

There’s also an “I spy” type feature built into each of the images that serve as pages in the book. On each page is hidden a lantern, and finding and tapping the lantern triggers a gong sound. Finding the lanterns is a nice way to keep the reader (or listener) engaged in the story as it progresses, and gives kids something to do other than just hold the iPhone and listen.

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The app is at its best, obviously, when the narrator and character audio is playing. The narrator takes what is a pretty thin story as far as descriptive words and details, and fills it out with his reading. It might be hard to make a line like, “And then Po went outside and fought some bad guys,” work when reading from the app, but the narrator pulls it off with the movie’s signature humor, rather than the slight confusion I felt trying to read the line aloud to make it make sense.

Kung Fu Panda fans who are on the young end of the spectrum are going to get the most use out of this app. But users any older than about 5 years old, or not especially familiar with the franchise, aren’t going to find their attention held for very long. There’s a key audience here, but that audience will enjoy Kung Fu Panda Holiday Storybook thoroughly.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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