In “Tales of Midlandia” author Michael Scotto has created a series of stories about a fictional island and its citizens. The message-driven tales deliver lessons on bullying, the “real treasures in life,” and recycling. We reviewed another app in this series, The Pirate Koostoe, earlier this year.
Title: Builda the Re-Bicycler
Author: Michael Scotto
Published by: Lincoln Interactive, 2009
Illustrated by: The Ink Circle
Series: Tales of Midlandia
Developed by: Midlandia Press
Platform: iOS, requires 4.3 or later
K-Gr 2-On the island of Midlandia, residents throw away bicycles in need of repair. Builda O. Bobo, the owner of the bicycle factory, discovers piles of these discarded vehicles in the dump and decides to fix them. She calls her project “re-bicycling” but the term is shortened to “recycling.” Soon Buildaʼs efforts spread throughout the island as residents recycle cans, bottles, and paper.
The app easy to navigate. Tapping arrows to the left or the right of the screen will turn back or advance the page. A menu provides readers with three reading options: “Read To Me,” “Auto Play,” or “Read By Myself.” The author enthusiastically narrates the story in the “Auto Play” and “Read To Me” modes where words are highlighted as they are read. However, viewers may find the background music distracting. Unfortunately, when the sound is switched off, both the background music and the narration are turned off. The “Auto Play” mode moves at a rapid pace, which could prove challenging to readers trying to follow the words on the screen.
The colorful illustrations and animal characters will appeal to young readers. Children will be also be attracted to the interactive features included on many pages. Wheels spin, horns honk, and cameras flash when hot spots are touched. Shaking the tablet on one screen causes bicycle parts to tumble across the page. The publisher of the story refers to the tale as a “character builder,” and discussion questions at the end of the story reinforce the overt message that “one little idea could make a huge difference.”— Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME