Lucy & PogoFall 2016 Mobile Apps
It seems sadly characteristic of the world we live in today that every time we pick up a newspaper or turn on the television or radio, we are bombarded with images of hate and violence. Even when we attempt to shield our children from coverage of these events, they still hear about them from friends or social media. And, the hate for the "different" among us can be an incredibly difficult, not to mention frightening, thing for children to understand. It is for that reason, that engaging and age appropriate books that teach about and combat prejudice and intolerance are so important.
Lucy and Pogo, an interactive storybook by catsndogz, is based on the popular French story, "Le chat qui aboyait," The Cat that Barked. It tells the tale of two outwardly different neighbors, Lucy the cat and Pogo the dog. Pogo goes to school everyday and Lucy would love to join him, but she cannot, because no cats are allowed at school. Lucy decides to disguise herself as a dog, Rocky, so that she too can go. Once at school, she is horrified by a biology class that describes cats as ghastly monsters and a teacher who plans a cat-hunt for the next day. As it so happens, disaster strikes during the hunt and the only one who can save the day is Lucy/Rocky. While celebrating the rescue, everyone is shocked to see Lucy's dog costume fall off to reveal their "worst enemy," a cat! Of course, through this lesson, the dogs overcome their prejudice and begin to welcome all animals to their school. The messages are as clear in the story as they are in this review.
Beyond the moral lessons of the story, the interactive features have a wide variety of developmental benefits. Children can help Lucy don her dog costume and place continents on the map at school; these tasks help with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial reasoning. And, they help her spell her dog-name, which is great for letter recognition, letter names, and letter sounds. While it isn't the whole alphabet, it can peak interest, which is sometimes half the battle. There are no third-party ads, in-app purchases, or social media links. Additionally, no usage information is collected and no internet connection is required.
There are any number of apps and storybooks that aim to teach children about intolerance, but many come across as overly directive or heavy-handed. Oftentimes, the story feels an afterthought of the moral; that is not the case in Lucy and Pogo. Available in five languages, this engaging and well-written story is a vehicle for an important message, not the other way around.