November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

To Panama with a Tiger and a Bear | Touch and Go

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This originally German publication also saw life as a picture book in the United States. It was published here in 1981 by Little, Brown, and featured a translation by Anthea Bell. Caroline Molnar considers the digital version below.

Bear and Tiger in The Trip to Panama (Mixtvision Digital GmbH) Janosch

Bear and Tiger in The Trip to Panama (Mixtvision Digital GmbH) Janosch

Originally published in Germany as a picture book, The Trip to Panama  (Mixtvision Digital GmbH, iOS, $3.99; Android, $3.62; PreS-Gr 1) immediately intrigues in a digital format. The story follows the adventures of best friends who embark on a journey seeking the land of their dreams, only to find it closer than they ever imagined.

Children may choose to read the story or listen to a narration. Serene music opens the app and ambient sound effects (birds chirping, water flowing, etc.) are heard throughout. Renowned illustrator Janosch’s images feature muted tones and soft, layered lines. Clever animations adorn the pages and games are built into the story; for example, when Bear goes fishing on the river, a tap to one of the jumping fish will land it in his bucket, while a touch to a rusty can or a shoe produces a red “x.” The games were surprisingly fun. The production is easy to navigate, unfolding in seven succinct chapters with the touch of an arrow. For those viewers who are unsure what to do, a narrator offers help.

There are a few minor stumbles in the story. When a parcel with balloons arrives after completing a game, it is unclear if it is part of the story or not. Some of the scenarios are silly, but most young children won’t notice. It’s a gentle story with no real villains, but peppered with great vocabulary words.

A sweet, if strange story about what is truly important in life. Tiger and Bear are kind creatures that navigate a mostly soft, simple world of animal friends. Despite any minor hiccups, it is easy to see why these characters are beloved around the world. Ad free and has no in app purchase options.—Caroline Molnar, Worthington City Schools, OH


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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek 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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