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CTR Weekly 2/20/2019
BolognaRagazzi Digital Winners; LEGO Hidden Side, Women Who Changed the World and Wonderscope; Toy Fair 2019
“Kids expect exciting play experiences that move seamlessly between physical and digital worlds – something we call fluid play,” said Tom Donaldson, senior vice president, Creative Play Lab at the LEGO Group.

We have a jam-packed CTR Weekly for you this week, with the results of the BolognaRagazzi Digital award and news from Toy Fair.

It's a big, juried global award with a funny name. Funded by the world's largest children's publishing event and coordinated by Children's Technology Review, the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award considered 104 recent entries from 26 countries. Germany, the UK and Italy were the top producers of entries (sadly, the USA has dropped to fifth place). There were four winners, seven special mentions and four short-list mentions. Learn more about the award here -->

Listen to the jurors discuss the trends here -->

The Gardens Between (The Voxel Agents, 2018, Australia)
Author: The Voxel Agents
Illustrator: Soft Science
The story of two young friends who learn what it means to grow, moving together in a series of beautifully illustrated puzzles. The user experience is exceptional and the puzzles are a further cognitive challenge that involves all ages, starting from 7 years. It works on Switch, Xbox and PS4, Mac and PC.

Wonderscope / A Brief History of Amazing Stunts (PRELOADED / WITHIN, 2018, United Kingdom)
Author: Beth Garrod
Illustrator: PRELOADED
In this app, available only for iOS, augmented reality joins speech recognition. With short voice commands you can solve problems, such as assisting an acrobatic plane and flying it into your room. The jurors appreciated the splendid graphics and the sense of humor. AR favors the exploration of one's physical space, involving the user in the experience. It works on iOS (Apple devices).

Montessori Preschool (EDOKI ACADEMY, 2017, France)
Author and Illustrator: EDOKI ACADEMY
Subscription app collections abound this year. Few, however, have been kept and updated as well as this, with an original content that the jurors considered to be true to the Montessori brand. The service offers an extraordinary variety of games and activities for the 3-7 age group. Function on Android, Kindle and iOS.

Bayam (Bayard Presse, 2017, France)
Author: Bayard, TOBO STUDIO, AA.VV
Illustrator: Bayard, AA.VV
In the panorama of the numerous and well-kept collections of digital content for children this year, Bayam stands out for its general quality level. It is evident the extreme care with which we tried to collect innovative titles, including some winners of previous editions of the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award. For the age group 3-6 years.

Seven additional entries were selected by the jurors as examples of excellence in each category.

AR (Mention)
Ghost-O-Matic (Carlton Books Ltd, UK)
This genuinely creepy book/app combination sets a new standard for how AR features can truly augment printed material. As you enhance your skills as a ghost hunter, you uncover clues, capturing ghosts and solve the puzzles. Jurors noted the quality steam punk style design. Ages 10-up; iOS app (book required).

FICTION (Mention)
Affamato Come un Lupo (Hungry Like a Wolf) (Minibombo, Italy)
A lovely, simple app for preschoolers, helping them make choices and navigate visual mazes while helping fun animals escape a hungry wolf. If all goes well, they get to have their picnic. Jurors liked the simple, attractive graphics, sounds and good user experience. Ages 4-8 years, Android and iOS

Spitkiss (Playdius, Danmark)
Colorful illustrations and well designed gameplay take on themes of gender identity and polyamorous relationships without being too serious. This game is fun to play for all ages, and requires logical thinking and timing. Ages 6-up. Runs on iOS, Android and Steam.

Fiete World (Ahoiii Entertainment, Germany)
Within the growing genre of virtual dolls house worlds, Fiete World stands out with its charming illustrations, smooth design and sophisticated cause-effect interactions. For example you can use a saw to cut down a tree, to make a fire. A wonderful, creative world to inspire young imagination. Ages 3-6. Runs on iOS.

Lexi’s World (Pop Pop Pop, USA)
For a young child, cracking the reading code can be hard work. This app bridges the distance between letters and meaning by turning letters into living building blocks. As a child types, she builds items that appear on the screen. Ages 3-6. Runs on on iOS.

MixerPiece (Giuseppe Ragazzini, Italy)
Turn your tablet into visual classical art blender, 200 items that have been carved from classic works of art. Each item can be tinted, resized, replaced or erased, and you can see it in the context the part of the original work making this a nice soft introduction to classical art. Playful, creative and educational. Runs on iOS and Android. Ages 5-up.

Kidomi (Fingerprint Digital Inc., USA)
This is a wonderfully broad library of “all you can eat” children’s content in a single monthly/yearly subscription. The library includes many of the judges’ favorites and a wide range of leading brands for which the platform should be commended. Only a few less high-quality items detract from the overall experience for us. Runs on iOS, Android, PC and Kindle. For ages 3-up.

The jurors also gave the following entries a special commendation, for making their unique contribution to children’s digital publishing.

Ovivo (IzHard, Russia)
Mesmerizing black and white puzzle game. Whilst not only for children, it uses its simplicity as a wonderful tool to challenge the play, exploring the themes of gravity, negative space, in and out, up and down.

Women Who Changed the World (Learny Land, Spain)
Learning about strong female role models in history is important for children of both genders. This is accomplished here, with quality illustrations and a good interactive experience. The mix of quiz questions, reading, audio and graphics make a nice interactive book experience. Ages 8-up, for iOS.

Little Kitten Preschool (Fox and Sheep, Germany)
This second “Little Kitten” app gives you more to do, and features beautiful realistic illustrations. Games are limited, but include an attractive, easy to play AR experience. Runs on iOS, for ages 3-8.

Bookful (Inception, Israel)
This online book store from Israel does something very special, by making classic children’s books look like they’re sitting on your table using Augmented Reality (AR). You can swipe to turn the page, zoom into a page, and examine illustrations in 3D. Jurors liked the collection, which includes Peter Rabbit and the DK Children’s Encyclopedia.

This issue of CTR Weekly contains a first look at LEGO Hidden Side featuring a new play pattern called "blended" play, where you have one hand in the real world, and the other in the virtual counterpart. Other trends this year include more iteration of existing products (in other words, "new and improved" versions), hundreds of "hidden surprises" collectibles, and a fair amount of slime. CTR Correspondent Scott Traylor wrote up his observations in KidScreen and also created this snappy looking slide deck with some analysis. Here's the link

So... look for more new reviews -- and plenty of YouTube videos in your upcoming issues.

LEGO Hidden Side
LEGO Americas, , ($20 to $120 on iPad, iPhone, Android), for ages 7-up.
An augmented reality-enhanced set of eight LEGO construction sets (each sold individually) that lets you make your haunted world normal, by catching and fighting ghosts. Each model can be built as it appears by day – a school house, bus, or graveyard, for example – and has transforming functionality to become the haunted version of itself. The app, which you download at no cost, lets you assume a first-person perspective.
In the story, Jack and Parker (each represented by a mini-figure) are shown in Newbury (their home town). Using your mobile phone, you see and solve paranormal mysteries hidden in the scene. The app prompts you to hold their phone up to the physical LEGO models to interact with interactive elements, or “points of possession,” which release the virtual ghosts.
LEGO Hidden Side marks the first time the company introduces one of its play themes as a service. After launch, the app experience will continue to expand with new ghosts and challenges; a concept they are calling "fluid play." Coming late summer 2019. Physical sets will range in price from $20 to $120. The LEGO Hidden Side app will be a free download from the App Store and Google Play. Learn more at visit /hiddenside.
Here's the PR video
Video Link:

* Women Who Changed the World
Learny Land,, ($3.50 on iPad, iPhone, for ages 7-up.
Eight strong female role models are highlighted in this well designed high-quality, interactive experience. The interactions, quiz questions, reading, audio and graphics all combine into solid interactive book experience. The history lessons are recommended for children of both genders. The text is narrated in clear English, and the stories give you the chance to control the central characters. You can "fly" Amelia Earhart's plane, answering short multiple choice questions, and testing your historical knowledge.

* Wonderscope
Within Unlimited, Inc., , ($Free plus $5 per adventre for IAP on iPad, iPhone, for ages 7-up.
Augmented reality meets voice recognition in this extremely innovative app from the UK that was named a winner of the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award for 2019. The app lets you direct AR characters with your voice, using short verbal voice commands. In the story, you help Wonder, The Ringmaster of Wonder’s Land get ready for the carnival’s big opening. The idea is to solve problems by reading short sentences, like helping a stunt plane fly around your room. The app is based on three historical stunts, including those by Betty Bromage, an 88-year old grandmother that stood on the wings of an airborne bi-plane; Helen Gibson, Hollywood’s first stuntwoman; and Charles Blondin, the first person to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls.
As you explore, you can meet, help, and talk to pioneers, inventors, and heroes. There's not a lot to actually do in this voice directed app other than to read short sentences. But the production quality merged with two emerging technologies (voice recognition and augmented reality) is certainly noteworthy. The app works on newer iPhones and iPads ( iOS 11 or better). The first adventure is free; others are offered for $4.99 each as IAP.
Video Link:

* Denotes Editor's Choice

Save the Date for Dust or Magic 2019 -- Nov. 3-5, Lambertville, NJ