March 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Robot Dad | Touch and Go

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A creative, pint-size maker comes up with an ingenious solution when he misses his dad.

Screen from Radio Jones and his Robot Dad (Nexus Productions)

Radio Jones and His Robot Dad (Nexus Productions, Free, Gr 1–5) by Chris O’Reilly, Alan Smith, and Adam Foulke is a cross between a wordless picture book and an animated film. It’s a sweet and sad but ultimately uplifting story about a boy who misses his father’s company so much that he builds a robot dad to take the man’s place. Robot dad spends the entire day with the boy, and their adventures, which start off fun, soon get out of hand.

The tale is told through panels in the graphic novel format and viewers turn each page by swiping across the screen. Most of the panels are static, but some are animated and others offer interaction. Animated circles and arrows appear on the screen to indicate options, although players will discover additional interactive elements if they keep exploring. Background music plays throughout, ranging from soothing piano and banjo music to upbeat techno. Sound effects such as bouncing ball, beeping cars, or chirping birds are also heard throughout.

The app has plenty of visual appeal, owing in part to the depiction of these endearing cartoon characters. Also, color, lighting, and shadows are used to great effect, creating panels that resemble animated film storyboards. Progression through the tale is intuitive, although it might take users a few tries to learn how to turn the pages or to discover how all of the interactive elements work. VERDICT A fun and simple app that tells a poignant story about the importance of love and family.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Screen from Radio Jones and His Robot Dad (Nexus Productions)

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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  1. Looks like a great learning app that incorporates play and some gorgeous artwork to boot.

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