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Fiete KinderZoo app review

kinderzoo-title“We invited 30 kids…to design an app…in 1 hour!” begins Fiete KinderZoo (Ahoiii, October 2016; iOS and Android). A photo slideshow on a series of brightly colored backgrounds portrays kids cutting and pasting collage elements, recording sound, and just generally having a blast hanging out at the Ahoiii studio. Upbeat string-and-xylophone music accompanies the photos.

After this (skippable) intro, the app proper opens with friendly sailor Fiete standing outside the gates of a zoo. Walk Fiete to the right and through the gates to view the children’s imagined animals, created with a combination of construction-paper cutouts, crayon and colored-pencil details, and the occasional pair of googly eyes. Each animal has a color-coordinated sign stating its name (ranging from “Sarah” to “King Kong”). A bit of very simple animation brings the children’s creatures to life. Tap on an animal to hear the sound it makes (“Peep,” “ROOOOOAAAAR!”), or tap the fork-and-knife icon in the top right corner to offer some food for it to munch. The snacks, also designed by the kids, include a pile of bananas, an elaborately decorated tiered cake, and abstract collections of shapes.

The cut-paper zoo setting is mostly white space, with a few flowering bushes in the animals’ “habitats” and subtle gray fence and light-post shapes in the distance; the only background sounds are birdsong. This allows the children’s creativity to take center stage. The results are incredibly varied, with real-life animals like Leo the lion appearing alongside Dino the…well, dinosaur…and Herzchen the pegacorn (whose animal sound is a few bars of a hummed tune).

There’s not a lot to this app (and it doesn’t have much to do with Fiete, for you Fiete fans out there) but it’s silly and engaging. And the kids’ work — not to mention the very fact that the app was mostly designed by children — may inspire young users to turn their own imaginations loose.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later) and Android devices (requires Android 2.3 and up); free. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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