Tales of Babar the Elephant and his adventures were favourites of mine as a child, however the characters have evolved, and now my children enjoy watching the adventures of Babar’s grandson, Badou, as an animated series on television. Cupcake Digital have brought other animated stories to the iPad in ebook form, and now it is Badou’s turn in Babar and Badou’s Musical Marching Band.
In the story, everyone in the palace is getting ready to greet The Lord of the Rhinos and his wife. Ambassador Crocodylus is jealous of the attention (that he never received!) and plans to sabotage the event by getting his musically-challenged nephews to play at the reception, hoping that the music will be so terrible, the Rhinos will be insulted. Badou uses cleverness and kindness to turn the situation around with a delightful outcome for all….except for Crocodylus!
Supportive reading features
- Reading Modes – There are 3 Reading modes – Read to Me, Read and Play, Quiet Reading.
- Read to Me – Narration automatically commences as each page is turned. Children can tap on interactive elements around the screen during or after the narration. Sparkles indicate interactive elements.
- Read and Play – There is no narration, although children can tap individual words to hear them spoken. Interactive elements are all accessible.
- Quiet Reading – there are no interactive elements or narration, and children read quietly at their own pace.
- Words spoken as tapped – independent readers who might struggle with the odd word can tap any word to hear it spoken aloud. This can also be handy for making “find a word” games, such as finding sight words or words that have a particular phonic element.
- Highlighted text – text is highlighted as it is read by the narrator in Read to Me mode. This helps emergent readers to track the words as they are spoken. Individual words are highlighted as tapped in both Read to Me and Read and Play modes.
- Interactive Features – There are enough interactive features to keep children entertained, but not enough to overwhelm them. Exploring the interactive elements can provide useful discussion opportunities and can help provide children with background concepts that can add to the story experience.
The entertaining story and the care taken with the features mentioned above would make this a wonderful app, but Cupcake Digital have put some extras into the app, and really deliver value for money .
In the Create section you will find three activities for music and art:
- Sing Along – a karaoke-style rendition of the series theme song, complete with the animation.
- Coloring – colour in different scenes using a variety of painting tools. I’d be impressed with this activity even if it was an app by itself as it ticks most of the boxes for what I want in a drawing and painting app. I’m impressed with the variety of drawing tools and stickers, and I love that the lines are always “stick.” In addition to the different colouring pages,there is a blank page where children can create their own original artwork.
- Music Maker – tap the different parts of the character’s “One man Band” outfit to make your own music
The Play section also has three activities for literacy, numeracy and observation
- Alphabet Derby – help Badou steer his airship up, down, forward and backwards to collect each alphabet letter as it floats past. Avoid obstacles such as kites and balloons. This is the perfect game for little children as there are no penalties for mistakes: obstacles are biped out of the way, and missed letters simply return to the screen for another try. As each letter is collected, it is named and highlighted. It is refreshing to find a game that doesn’t stop once you’ve made three errors. The Northern American pronunciation of “zee” is used but we are used to working around that, although it would be nice to have a “zed” option.
- Go Bananas – help Badou catch the bananas as they fall from the tree, but try to avoid the snakes. This works similarly to the alphabet activity, except in this case Badou is counting bananas to 20. Again, there are no penalties for missed bananas, or catching snakes. Sometimes, when bananas don’t quite make it into the basket, they might bounce, giving a second chance to catch them.
Treasure Hunt – this is a simple hidden object game where children are asked to find 5 objects, one at a time. The prompt is given verbally, written and with a picture. The objects are fairly easy to find I. The scene, but if the child is having difficulty sparkles appear over the missing item to help them find it. My toddler (2 years old) was very impressed that each answer results in a big star appearing in the screen (he is into stars in a big way right now.) There are no penalties for tapping incorrect items, and no time penalties either.
The YouTube trailer below gives a good overview of the app, but doesn’t highlight the interactive elements in the illustrations, or the variety of drawing and painting options. Basically, it looks great, but the app is even better in reality.
There are some external links to websites, email and social media in the app, but they are hidden from the child. In addition, Cupcake Digital have extra educational worksheets related to the story that you can download for free from their website.
With an entertaining story, supportive features for emergent readers, and some fun activities, what is there not to love about this app? If you are looking for some good stories to load on your iPad for some holiday car trips, or if you would like to gift an app to a child for a birthday or Christmas, this one would be an excellent choice. You might like to check the other Cupcake Digital stories available on iTunes. Thanks to Cupcake Digital for giving me the opportunity to review one of their great apps.
Developer: Cupcake Digital
- Cupcake Digital Launches Babar & Badou’s Musical Marching Band, A Playful New Story App for Families and Kids (virtual-strategy.com)
- Francis Poulenc (1899-1963): The Story of Babar the Elephant, for piano and narrator (1940) with words by Jean de Brunhof. (rachaelueckermann.wordpress.com)