Subscribe to The Horn Book

Spot app review

spot menuMany of David Wiesner’s best-known books are wordless or nearly wordless. Mr. Wuffles, Flotsam, Tuesday: readers create their own narrative based on a visual experience. And that experience is unlike any other — each of Wiesner’s books is entirely unique, though each is also indelibly his.

His new app, Spot (HMH/Smashing Ideas, February 2015), is also wordless (there are some sound effects and music). It’s also entirely unique, indelibly his, mind-blowingly imaginative…and very difficult to describe. It’s a little hard to figure out how to enter and navigate once you’re inside; a ladybug crawls across the screen (it’s the letter o in Spot). Tap its back, then use the pinch-and-spread method with your fingers to zoom in, aerial-view-like, on: first an island, then the exterior of a house, and then inside the house, where you’ll find some small ladybugs — they look like the heroic ones from Mr. Wuffles — working on constructing a giant mechanical ladybug. Zoom in on their worktable where five pulsing “hotspots” appear — one on a moldy sandwich, one on a pencil, a cookie, a newspaper, and a file folder labeled “Worlds: Mekanikos, [something in alien language that also looks like it’s from Mr. Wuffles], Katzaluna, Oceana Prime, Lower Rügg.” Pick a pulsing spot to follow, and zoom in further an another (out-of-this)world, populated by creatures familiar, remarkable, and/or bizarre. And on and on…

spot worktable

These worlds-within-worlds are truly interconnected: motifs reappear throughout the app, and visitors from each of the worlds make cameos in the others (e.g., fish in a rolling aquarium attract some uncomfortable attention in Katzaluna, a cat-populated metropolis). Humorous details — particularly visible in the species’ interactions and various tourists’ clueless behaviors — add emotional warmth and additional narratives to interpret.

spot cat parade

an uncomfortable interaction with the locals (plus a parade-float stowaway)

With so much to explore, this app will keep kids engaged, confounded, inspired, enthralled. You can find downloadable parent and educator guide PDFs along with a brief “Behind the Scenes” video here. Dive in, embrace your confusion, and enjoy.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $3.99. Recommended for primary users and up.

Share
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*