Boj makes his Apple debut

Harriet Dunlea

If you live with a fan of CBeebies, you might recognise this fun and adventurous bilby called Boj. Plenty of young viewers have loved joining Boj on his adventures, solving problems (Let’s get Boj-ing!) and having fun with his group of buddies from Giggly Park. Now, Boj-enthusiasts can enjoy the stories on a more interactive level with three appbooks inspired by the TV episodes.

Box Of Frogs Media and Pesky Productions have produced Boj The CollectorBoj Musical Mayhem and Boj Hoppy Birthday; all are graphically vibrant apps and allow children to have an engaging reading experience.

Each appbook includes ‘Read by yourself’ and ‘Pops reads to you’ functions, allowing young readers to choose to read independently or with assistance (Pops happens to be voiced by Jason Donovan). The text in the ‘Pops reads to you’ versions becomes highlighted at the speed of Donovan’s narration so children can keep track of the reading pace (much like their parent would keep track with their finger tip if it were a print book).

Beyond the reading exercise itself, these appbooks offer lots of entertaining features. On each page readers can make the characters come alive by touching them; Boj and his friends giggle with delight in The Collector, play their instruments in Musical Mayhem and jump with a skipping rope in Hoppy Birthday.

Each app also contains a couple of games that kids are bound to love: they can build a guitar, make a hat, fill Boj’s wheelbarrow with his favourite things and give gifts to Boj’s friends. No doubt parents will also be thankful these built-in games provide their children with an extra distraction! It’s also worth pointing out that once the appbook has been read, readers can select an individual game from the homepage if they want to have another go without going through all the pages again.

Parents may not be so appreciative of the cheesy Jason Donovan sing-along that closes each app, although children have the option to repeat it as much as they want (grown ups, remember, I warned you here first!) All songs are presented in a karaoke style so Boj fans can sing with their favourite TV characters. On top of that, here’s a fun piece of trivia to remember about the music in Boj appbooks: all songs are composed by Mick Cooke, the trumpeter from Scottish indie band Belle & Sebastian (random fit, don’t you think?)

The highlight of the Boj appbooks has to be the audio – the creators have included plenty of effects, which add to the dynamics of the settings and plots. Birdsong plays in the background of the pages, you can hear the creaky swings in the playground, and different tunes are used to reflect the different moods and stages of the stories.

The only issues found with the Boj appbooks are relatively insignificant. For one, the reactivity of the ‘home’ menu button is slow when you’re in the middle of a book (which, grown ups, could be frustrating if you want to quickly abandon the sing-along). I also sometimes found that by selecting the ‘Read by yourself’ function the app lead me to the ‘Pops reads to you’ function, and vice versa.

A couple of small hiccups aside, the Boj appbooks are 100% recommended if you want your child to have reading experiences beyond the printed page. The combination of games, interactivity, audio and songs will make children feel like they are part of the story and encourage them to believe that reading is enjoyable.

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