Both my sons love to watch animated cartoons. They specifically enjoy the Chuggington TV series. Philip, my eldest son, would rather watch animated cartoons than read books on the iPad. Finding a good children book on the App Store is already hard enough for me, that I dare say finding a good app that also offers animated cartoons for your juniors would almost be impossible.
Cocoons and Caterpillars
Cocoons and Caterpillars is an animated story app from the Stella and Sam series which are developed by Zinc Roe Games based on the TV show and picture book series by Marie-Louise Gay, a Canadian children's author and illustrator. The reason why I don't consider this to be a storybook app is because it really is not a book. It has no text, hence there's nothing for you to read.
This app is more like an animated cartoon, divided into four chapters. In each chapter, the app basically shows animated cartoon that is professionally dubbed featuring four characters, i.e. Stella, Sam, Alan, and Fred (Sam's dog). Between each chapter, you will find mini games that are uniquely designed to fit the storyline. These mini games are fun to play and have no timer, making them appropriate for young children.
Cocoon and Caterpillars fully supports French localization not only in the app menus, labels and texts, but also the dubbed voices. If you want to try it, you can change your iPad's language settings to French. Just don't forget to change it back to your default language.
What parents need to know about the storyline
The story started with Stella coming in the backyard where Sam and Alan were playing with Fred, Sam's dog. She shows them a caterpillar that she had on a stick and tells them how the caterpillar would turn into a cat (which is, of course, not true). Then she continues with a pun by saying how a dogerpillar would turn into a dog.
Throughout the story you will learn other puns such as birderpillar and helicopterpillar. The only correct part of the story would be when Stella explains how a cocoon will turn into a butterfly. She even incorrectly explains how a butterfly gets its color, i.e. by picking the colors from the colorful flowers (as shown in the first mini game).
This app serves as a good example of how a child's world works. They are driven by their imaginations, they're not afraid of being wrong, and most importantly you (as their parents) must be there to correct them when they get it wrong. This is why I always try new apps before I allow my juniors to play with them.
What I like about the app
This is a unique app. It is quite an uncommon thing to find a story app that is not a book. It can even be considered as a rare thing to find one that features animated cartoons as its main selling point. Having professional dubbers both in English and French really makes Cocoons and Caterpillars an outstanding story app.
As you might expect from any animated cartoon, Cocoons and Caterpillars also have the ability to enchant your juniors. They will enjoy watching the story, even though they may not be able to understand the entire story. That's where we, as parents, come in to discuss the storyline with them.
I personally like the last two mini games, i.e. bird songs and cloud shapes. The bird songs mini game is actually a memory training game where your juniors need to remember and replay a sequence of musical notes that are produced by the quartet of birds. This is a good practice, even for adults like us.
The last mini game, i.e. the cloud shapes, is a unique one. I don't think I remember seeing it in many other apps I've tried so far. In this game, your juniors can trace (without having any guidance) a shape within a given cloud. The resulting shape can be a bird, a turtle, a tree, a crab, or an elephant. I find this mini game to be the peak of a child's imagination in Cocoons and Caterpillars where it's acting as though it were a whiteboard. The app is well implemented that it will give subtle hints about where your gesture should start and where you should direct it to.
Cocoons and Caterpillars is a unique story app where the storyline is told through a series of animated cartoons and carefully designed mini games. I highly appreciate the professional dubbing that has gone into this app. The way the comments are inserted in the mini games are very fluid and make the overall experience an enjoyable one. If you're looking for something new to add to your collection of storybook apps and animated cartoon series, I highly recommend this hybrid.