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REVIEW: ‘The Pirate Koostoe’

This story about a boy’s  misguided dream is wrapped in a message.

Title: The Pirate Koostoe: A Tales of Midlandia Storybook
Author: Michael Scotto
Illustrator: The Ink Circle
Developed by: Midlandia Press
Platform: iOS, requires
Version: 1.1.111216
Price: $2.99

K- Gr 2-Set in the seaside community of Midlandia, this story centers on boyhood dream of a Capt. Koostoe O. Bobo. Viewers are introduced to the adult Koostoe as he sails the waters around his island home. But Koostoe hadn’t always wanted to be a ship captain, he once longed to be a pirate, and within the first few frames of this app, viewers are transported back to that time.

The boy Koostoe believes that a buccaneer’s life will be filled with adventure and treasure. His friends don’t agree, but he is determined to give it a try. Koostoe’s attempt at pirating fails when he realizes that it’s “stealing”; in time he comes to understand that “treasure comes in many forms”—a message delivered more than once in this short production.

A sailing ship, leaping dolphins, and other simple animations, along with some panning and zooming are featured in the app. Tapping the sparkling stars that appear over an object will cause the word for it to be spoken; throughout background music and sound effects enhance the storytelling.

From the main menu readers can choose viewing and sound options or jump to a particular page in the story. The “Auto Play” option is fluid and the best choice as in some other modes and spots navigation is inflexible, which may frustrate young readers and listeners.

The bright artwork in saturated colors features animal characters with none-too-clever monikers. While the app’s targeted audience may not make the connection between some of the characters and their names—Koostoe (the captain of a ship who has underwater adventures), Sew (the seamstress), Dewey (the librarian)—they are sure to elicit groans from the adults who view the app. Additional creatures referred to as “the Inks” appear randomly. When touched they squeal and laugh. Perhaps in the context of the Midlandia Press stories the Inks make sense, but here their presence is curious.

The four discussions questions that appear at the end of the app (about hobbies, interests, and jobs that relate to them) add to the didactic tone of the app. This message-driven story is not likely to get too many encore requests.—Elisabeth LeBris, Sears LTC, Kenilworth, Il