My virgin state allowed me to give an interesting perspective, in that I can approach the app with the same technical awareness as that of a child. Honestly, probably less than that of most tech-savy kids today. But it also means that you may need to excuse my less-than-perfect terminology. For instance, do I say that the app begins? (Yeah, I’ll go with it.)
Dude! We’re going to grab some Jack Daniels, hitchhike to Texas, and pants Rick Perry!!???
Turns out that we were going to draw the Pigeon together, which I suppose is also cool. The instructions were clear and made memorable by his personalizing touch, like explaining that the Pigeon’s beak is drawn by making an M for “Mo” or W for “Willems.” Making a respectable-looking drawing on the iPhone was not easy, though kids probably won’t mind (and it might be easier on the larger iPad). The resulting picture can be saved to use in the stories. (There’s also an option for drawing freely on the screen.)
There is a Mad Libs element to it all, as some phrases fit into the storyline with more ease than others. When the Pigeon talks about putting you in a room full of smelly socks, it makes sense. A room full of armpits is a little more surreal. But generally, it pretty much works.
But the best option for play and humor is Big Pigeon, where the reader can record the answer to any of the incorporated elements, and the pigeon will say them in the context of the story. This is where TeenReader and I had a blast. After trying it out once, and finding that the Pigeon attributed the change in his “voice” to needing a throat lozenge, Teen had to name the next story Don’t Let the Pigeon Have a Throat Lozenge. (See, it’s funny because the pigeon ends with the very thing we told him not to do!) And we just got sillier after that, topping out with a political tale, Don’t Let the Pigeon Pants Rick Perry, where the pigeon promised us a truckload of tequila, offered to play Occupy Wall Street with us, and informed us that Herman Cain would let him do it.
We had a lot of fun with the game — with nary a kid around us — so it certainly has promise for its target audience of actual children. Personally, I’m not crazy about shaking the device to start the story, as whenever I see a young child shaking an iPhone I get very nervous. I’d also like to see more in the app. More choices of fill-in elements, and more variations in the way the whole story comes together. But I don’t know apps, so maybe I’m dreaming a little big here. At $6.99 it also seemed a bit pricey compared to other book apps, but I do admit that I tend toward the stingy and have just the vaguest notion of what a reasonable price point might be for this sort of app. (A free copy was provided to me for review.)
Overall the Pigeon app is a lot of fun, and can keep the adults tossing out new titles long after the app play is done, from TeenReader’s woeful Don’t Let the Pigeon Take Precalculus to the existential Don’t Let the Pigeon Die Alone.
Now it’s your turn. What fun titles — particularly adult but not “adult” — would you like the Pigeon to try? Put them in the comments! TeenReader and I will pick our funniest favorite in a completely subjective way and give the winner a free copy of the app. The contest will end at 8:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 17th, with the winner announced the next day. Have fun!
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