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

CITYHACKS: In Search of Sleep

CITYHACKS: In Search of Sleep

Spring 2016 Mobile Apps
Ages: 9 & Up
Platform: iPad

In the Bibliotech interactive book CITYHACKS: In Search of Sleep, a teenager sets off to find out more about sleep, so she can convince her parents that she and her brother should be permitted to join a programming club that meets twice a week and runs until midnight. Along the way, the reader can choose places to visit -- a zoo, a sleep institute, a natural history museum, a university's anthropology department, and others -- and can take notes from the research. Readers see videos of actual professionals in the field, including a zoo educator and a sleep anthropologist, and can read articles based on sleep history. Ultimately the reader chooses which notes to present to the parents to try to win them over.

The book is peppered with a few mini-games to play to boost the concepts: a monster builder that highlights the new words from the book, a crossword puzzle, a chance to be a bat catching bugs labeled with vocabulary words, etc. These games are quick and fun and may motivate some readers to keep going, but they are not necessary to the story line. The information in the story is compelling enough to keep readers interested; my 10-year-old was only disappointed that there wasn't more for her to read! Fortunately, the book can be read numerous times, and there are several choices to be made, so the path to the conclusion can take a few unique turns. For a free app, there is plenty here to learn and enjoy.

Emily Crawford   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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