Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Leap and the Lost Dinosaur

Leap and the Lost Dinosaur

Spring 2013 Toys
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Manufacturer: LeapFrog Enterprises
Price: $13.99

Leap and the Lost Dinosaur is a hardcover picture book designed to be used with the Leap Frog TAG system (a pen that 'reads' the text on the page, and also provides sound and interactivity to the book). As with other books in the TAG universe, users can have the text read to them or can tap one word or image at a time to hear it. This book also provides some interactivity. Users can select their own dinosaur name (from clicking different images at the front) and play games with the interactive dinosaur cards included with the book.

The book can be read through almost entirely as a book, and comes with a collection of dinosaur cards which offer name, photo, diet, defenses, speed, size and the time period, and an envelope in the front of the book to hold the cards.

When using the Tag reader, the user can hear the book (or individual words) read to them, and interact with the book through a series of prompts or games. Even when compared to interactive eBooks on a tablet, children enjoyed reading this book. Early readers, especially, enjoyed being able to hold and "read" an actual book, while older ones learned lots from the included cards.

Though sometimes products like this offer facts but little storytelling appeal, this book balances the story well and uses the tag system to offer facts that are present, but not distracting. In paper books, the factual information can be overwhelming, and in eBooks they can be over-stimulating and distracting from the story. Children could easily read through this book without being distracted by pop-up facts, and repeat reading will be rewarded as they click those facts. It's a nice way to model the different ways we use books, from reading for fun, to reference.

Parents welcomed other benefits of the interactive TAG format. They appreciated hearing the names of dinosaurs read, as they are often difficult for young readers (and, in the case of Stygimoloch, for parents) to read. The level of interactivity provided a nice blend of reading and response aiding reading comprehension. In addition to the story and dinosaur facts, additional science detail is sprinkled throughout, from the way fossils form, types of teeth based on diet, and comparison of modern animals with their prehistoric counterparts.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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