AppStore User Rating:
This interactive ebook puts the reader right into the story, giving a feel of a first-hand experience in the world of the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies.
- Personalize the story
- Choose from three reading levels
- Find animations and sound effects on each page
- Play games with the dragon
- Gather clues to the puzzle
DreamWorks Press: Dragons really shines in the world of children’s ebooks. It offers the beginning of a new and unusual story set in the universe of the popular movies from this production company, but the storyline is new and personalized to the user. There is room for three users, but no apparent way to reset the app if desired. It literally makes the user part of the story. Technically speaking, the app is well-designed and works very well. The only two problems noted were that some of the highlighting (words change color as they are read out loud) does not have enough contrast with the background, making the highlighted words hard to see, and tapping some parts of some pages will send the app back about four pages for no apparent reason. This last seeming glitch could be a bit frustrating for young users tapping on the screen as they search for hidden animations and find themselves backtracking a considerable ways by accident.
While this app is not really intended to be “educational,” developers have done a fine job of accommodating many stages for young users. This app provides users with control over the level of complexity of the text; there are three levels available. It also adapts to male or female users by changing the pronouns in the story. Users can choose whether to have the text read out loud or to read it on their own, and it’s easy to turn the oral narration on or off, or even switch levels, in the middle of the story.
A few features that many children’s ebooks have but are missing from this app include the ability to start the narration over at the beginning of the page, the capability to hear a single word pronounced (helpful for young readers trying to be independent but still needing a little support), and changes to the text complexity level of the journal pages. The journal pages become available one set at a time between the chapters or levels of the app, but they are worded in the same way no matter what level of text complexity has been chosen. They are at a pretty high reading level, as well, and no narration is available. This could really detract from a young user’s experience, since the journal pages contain explanations and other information that move the story forward.
DreamWorks Press: Dragons is a highly entertaining app. The set up that pulls the reader into the story will make the app all the more interesting to young users. The story is told through the eyes of the main character (the user), and the scenes are shown from that perspective as well. Most pages have embedded animations and sound effects that support the story, though some (like Hiccup’s facial movements and Toothless’ head movements) get quite repetitious. Kids will also love the scene where they get to play fetch with Toothless; I wish there were a few more interactions like that throughout the app.
This app is a good value. Even staying on a single level, it takes over half an hour to go through the entire story with the narration turned on, which is quite lengthy as most children’s ebooks go. The illustrations and narration are outstanding, and the interactions are well-attuned to the story for the most part. The story doesn’t really end, though; lots of questions are left for future chapters, which don’t seem to be available at this time. There’s no indication about whether these will be in-app purchases or exactly what will be involved, just a note on the site in the app store that mentions “new installments that will keep the quest alive…”
DreamWorks Press: Dragons is child-friendly. There are no links to social media, no outside advertisements, and no in-app purchases at the present time. Within the Options section, there are a few protected areas, though children can access the reading level, narration, music, special effects controls and a scrolling list of production credits. Protected areas include a Parents’ Area that contains an email submission form to get on the developers’ mailing list, a button to gift the app, and a button that links to the DreamWorks website as well as an invitation to click at the top of the screen to get information about other products. The security gate is likely to be effective for very young children, but older children (those who can read number words) will quickly learn how to bypass it, since it simply asks users to press three digits using their word names.
DreamWorks Press: Dragons will amaze you with its ability to draw you into the universe of the popular movie series, making each experience personal and interactive. You won’t want to put it down!