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David Wiesner's Spot
© 2015 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

CTR Review
02/18/2015
Rating: 94%
Ease of Use
9/10
Educational
10/10
Entertaining
9/10
Design Features
9/10
Value
10/10
Total:
94%
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
Zoom in (or out) of five, interwoven, microscopic fictional worlds from the mind of USA children's illustrator David Wiesner (see also Flotsam). It all happens inside the spot on a ladybug's shell.

This app uses a "powers of ten" navigation technique, meaning that you pinch and zoom in (or out) of a scene in order to get around (see also Tick Bait's Universe for another app that uses this technique in a less elegant way).

There are five fictional worlds, each embedded in the other. At times, you run into a side-scrolling scene with animated features, including ambient sounds and limited interactivity that supports the theme. It takes six zooms (two fingers spreading apart) before you see the main branching point. From there, it takes about 16 more zooms to get to each of the five worlds. The interactive features are limited. You can pop the balloons in the cat parade, or tap the dust bunnies found under a bed to see them move. There are times when you stumble with the navigation, however, either by touching an interesting item that doesn't do anything, or by trying to explore side-to side when you really should be zooming in or out. This is a minor issue.

No reading is required. It's better to think of this app as an inside-out experience, where you make the narrative. This is easy to do... thanks to the wide ranging themes. You find animals (primarily cats and dust bunnies), outer space creatures, fish and spots of mold, and it all starts with a spot on the ladybug on the main menu.

Sadly, you discover after only about 20 minutes of exploring that the worlds start to repeat and you say "I've seen this before." By that time, however, you've enjoyed hundreds of imaginative illustrations; more content than you'd find in a typical printed book. Also note that children will need a pincer grasp in order to use this app, a fine-motor ability emerging in the preschool years.

A free parent/teacher guide is available for download with iBooks is available ($free, at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/david-wiesners-spot-parent/id962458409?mt=11).
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