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Sago Mini Boats app review

sago mini boats titleI took Harvey the dog out in a pickle boat and made him seasick. And how was your day?

At the beginning of Sago Mini Boats (2015; iOS and Android), you choose a destination for Harvey — and a friend to welcome him — and get packing. You can choose to put clothes and snacks into the suitcase or drag them off the screen. (Everyone needs underpants, even a dog.) There’s some degree of figuring things out for yourself; for instance, you don’t tap an arrow or anything to indicate that you’re done with the packing screen, you drag the lid onto the suitcase. But hey, that’s logical!

Next, pick a boat for Harvey’s journey from a fleet of options, ranging from a pirate ship to a buoyant bathtub to the aforementioned pickle boat. Then you’re on your way! Drag the boat over the water, through the air (splash!), or even under the water; Harvey will hold his breath for a reasonable time and then bounce back up.

sago mini boats underwater

I kept finding myself moving Harvey forward too fast and getting him seasick even when he wasn’t traveling through choppy waters. I have to admit that his hangdog (heh) look whenever that happened was pretty adorable, as were many of his other reaction faces. (Did you know a dog can look bored? This one can, if you leave him floating for too long.) But I did try to slow my fingers down to make the voyage easier on the poor canine. The need to slow down, combined with the gentle music and little splashy noises, made for a fairly soothing experience.

Along the way, there are items to find in the water, including lots of treats to drop into the boat — dogs don’t mind if their cupcakes are a little soggy. There are also island stops, like one with an octopus giving out ice cream and another with a pirate fish offering items from a treasure chest. The scenery, obstacles (including a whirlpool and a giant faucet/waterfall), and interactive surprises change slightly from play to play.

sago mini boats faucet

When you get Harvey to his destination, the friend you chose to visit at the beginning welcomes him and the two snap a photo together. And then you can start again!

sago mini boats photo

Sago Mini apps aren’t about racing the clock or beating a level. They’re about creating space to play and, in this case, splash. Have fun! But you may want to pack some seasickness pills.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later) and Android devices (requires Android 4.0.3 and up); $2.99. Recommended for preschool users.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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