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Math Tales: The Jungle app review

jungle titleMarshmallow Games‘s Math Tales: The Jungle app (March 2016; iOS only) opens with upbeat, Caribbean-style music and happy jungle animals poking their heads out of greenery to greet the player. Once the pulsing, yellow “play” button is pressed, the player is brought to the first page of a story: “On a sunny day, the king of the jungle / called all the animals, making a rumble! / They ran very soon, they wanted to know / which one was the will he wanted to show!” [sic] The king of the jungle wants to have a party to welcome elephant Ray (who has escaped from a circus) back to the jungle.

jungle lion

“We will have a party to welcome him back! / Let’s share all the tasks, nothing has to lack!”

After this introduction, the “Chapters” screen comes up, showing nine brightly colored, numbered boxes with an animal in each. The chapters are accessed sequentially: Chapter Two can’t be played until Chapter One has been completed, and so on. Each chapter begins with its title and an explanation of what skill its series of games seeks to build. Chapter One (“Sophie decorates the jungle!”) is about logical sequencing. In three different games, the player slides items into their correct place on different decorations. If correct, there is a nice little chime. If incorrect, there is a friendly “negative” noise. If the user has questions about the game being played, she can tap the “?” button in the top right-hand corner and the instructions will be read again. Once the game is completed, the lion appears to give a “Perfect” or “Congratulations” and it’s on to the next game.

In Chapter Two, “Corinne’s melodies,” gazelle dance instructor Corinne introduces “shape, sizes and number sequences.” This chapter asks the player to sort, which unfortunately involves sorting elephants wearing pink leotards from smallest to biggest — that is, skinniest to fattest. These games are great ways to practice skills — in addition to organization by size and number, this chapter covers spatial directions (left and right, front and back) — but this particular task could be considered problematic.

jungle elephants

Throughout, the inexpert Italian-to-English translation throws off both the meter of the rhyme and the clarity of the story and instructions. For example, in Chapter Three, the user plays counting games with “Marie, sweet Marie”: “The tiger Marie, chef of the savana [sic]. / She cooks everything, from a cake to a banana!” Clarity (and spelling) is ignored to force the stumbling rhyme. Later, in Chapter Six, which focuses on spatial perception, the user needs to know the difference between “into” and “onto.” Unfortunately, they are used incorrectly in the text and narration.

Overall, the games are well-organized and helpful for building preschool math and logic skills, the instructions are simple, and the graphics and music are lively. This game is likely very successful in the original Italian; it would be equally as successful in the English-language version if the translation were improved.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 8.0 or later); $2.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.

Siân Gaetano About Siân Gaetano

Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.

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