November 17, 2017

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Nosy Crow’s ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’ | Touch and Go

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photo-202It’s no surprise that Nosy Crow apps make nearly everyone’s best lists. As Kate Wilson, the company managing director, notes, ” The first step for us—and it may be different for other app developers—is the text. We’re about writing, but we’re writing with the device in mind, the features [that are available to us], and what we might be able to bring to the story in the [digital format]. But we start with the written word, much as we would with a picture book.” This practice has lead to huge success on the app front with titles including the award-winning The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. Now, here comes Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame, which out of the gate received a mention in 2014 BolognaRagazzi Digital Award fiction category.

Interior screen from 'Jack and the Beanstalk' (Nosy Crow)

Interior screen from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ (Nosy Crow)

Nosy Crow, the inimitable award-winning British publishing force, has crafted an even more innovative approach to the traditional tale in its latest app, Jack and the Beanstalk (Nosy Crow; $4.99; PreK-Gr 2), To describe the way it intersperses games using zooming, titling, and the camera within the narrative arc, let’s start with the story map, accessed from a tab on the homepage. It’s a visual menu and readers can consult it at any time. The narrative trail is depicted by dotted lines surrounding an image of a castle. Down the left side of the picture, it leads Jack from his home to the magic beans to the giant’s castle. The cross-section of the structure is situated in the center of the  map, a three-story array of nine color-coded doors each leading to a different concept-learning adventure. (Visualize Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album cover, but in color.)

Players now become Jack and “stay in the castle” capturing gold coins, golden eggs, and whatnot as long as they like, and then “catch” the narrative thread back home (the dotted trail on the right side of the picture). In other words, after playing a game or all nine, players can have Jack run out of the fortress and cascade down the beanstalk as fast as their little fingers can swipe. It is a chase: the giant’s great hands snatch at fleeing Jack.

Jack on the Run from 'Jack and the Beanstalk' (Nosy Crow)

Jack on the Run from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ (Nosy Crow)

When the story is spent, the ending changes depending on how many winnings Jack has taken away in the games behind each door. Told episodically, and narrated by children in speech bubbles, the witty dialog can be repeated, adding a way for emerging readers to practice by repetition. Little signals and directives help players know when they can move on.

Kids will delight in their victories along the way, especially wielding the axe that saves Jack and his mother from the Stromboli-esque giant, and will practice counting, patterning, color knowledge, piano melodies–not to mention reading skills and the underpinnings of narrative structure–along the way.–Sara Lissa Paulson, Librarian, PS 347 – “47” The American Sign Language & English Lower School, NY, NY

For more app reviews, visit our Touch and Go webpage.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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