Milli the Snail is on a quest to find out what she does best. Or, as Milli puts it: “What makes me, me?”. With no other snails to consult (she is the only snail on Apple Tree Hill) – she sets off to consult her neighbours. The story is an allegory of the journey we begin as children. It is a journey to understand what makes each of us unique. Over the course of her journey, Milli discovers something important. What makes Milli unique isn’t the hefty shell she carries on her back. What makes Milli unique is her ability to be helpful. What makes this app unique is its beautiful watercolour and potato-print (yes, you read it correctly: potato-print) illustrations.
The app is reminiscent of another book app, The Little Bug, by Jackie Littman. In the Little Bug, a caterpillar embarks on a journey of self-discovery and, in the process, witnesses the talents of many other creatures in its world. In Milli the Snail, Milli meets creatures like a ladybug named Miro who has lost his spot. Miro becomes her companion. Together, they encounter many other creatures including Leon, the chameleon who can hide so well, or Harry, the stag beetle with spectacular horns on his head.
There’s enough interactivity to keep things entertaining without taking over the story. For example, tap on the massive eyes of the chameleon to get them moving around. Or, tap on the dandelions to watch the seeds blow away. In one of the scenes with Harry the chameleon, you can actually make him change colour by selecting one of several possible backgrounds.
There are also three short games embedded within the story, which is a really nice feature. The games are woven into the narrative, and they allow children to become active participants in the story. Each of the games features a challenge to resolve. In the first game Milli is in danger of losing her balance. Her makeshift horns (inspired by the stag beetle) are causing her to lose her balance. Children help out by tilting the device. In the second game, children play hide and seek with Milli and Miro. And, in the third game children help Milli and Miro repair the Wanda the owl’s broken glasses.
There are the standard read it to me/read to myself options. The text can also turned on or off. The English narrator has a warm, grandmotherly feel to her voice. The app comes in two languages: English and German.
This app falls short in a couple of areas. Early readers may find the text difficult to read. The text is superimposed on a translucent background, and the illustrations underneath bleed through more than they should. The text is small, and words can’t be highlighted as they are read. Also, it isn’t easy enough to navigate to your favourite page: there are several taps and swipes involved; it certainly isn’t an ideal flow for a three or four-year-old.
The story is told in rhyme, but it is the graphics which truly set this app apart. And, more importantly, Millie’s quest for self-awareness is a great opportunity for kids to discuss and reflect on their own special qualities.
- By: Mixtvision Digital GmbH
- Device: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android
- Price: $2.99
- Age: 3-5