Kids will have a lot of fun in this educational iPhone and iPad Books app that takes them along on a virtual trip around the world to the exotic French Polynesian Archipelgo (group of islands) with a spunky little girl named Lulu and her peculiar cat friend named Zazou; as well as the little pink bird hiding on each page. Lulu in Polynesia (by Zanzibook) makes it exciting for young kids to learn about foreign lands due to its entertaining, but informative story format told in either French or English narration, colorful animated graphics, cheerful island-themed music, as well as an assortment of game-type activities to keep kids (and parents) engaged as they learn about the people, customs and new vocabulary words that are common to that land.
This iPad book has a very easy navigational layout. Clear verbal instructions are presented right from the first page to help you quickly get the lay of the land. The Menu compass icon (lower left) brings up the navigation; the Map icon will let you skip right to any island page of choice to learn about that particular island and see what Lulu and Zazou are up to. A Flag icon will let you choose which language you’d like to listen to the story in, either French or English; you can turn off sounds if you prefer to read through the book with your child or have your child read to you, but you’ll only see the animations — not hear any them, which is a bit of a shame. It would be nice have an additional option to turn the narration part on or off but still hear all of the character lines, sounds and music. Moving from page to page is simple, just tap the right or left arrow to proceed forward or backwards in the story. Although at times, I found myself wishing for a replay button (on each page ) so I could easily play back and hear the new and interesting vocabulary words sprinkled throughout the narration on each page — learning new words is fun, especially for wide-eyed kids learning about new things.
I remember (as a child) loving books that took place in exotic destinations around the world — and I think most kids do too. The journey and game activities start on the Marquesas Islands, where Lulu and Zazou are greeted by a young girl who gives Lulu a traditional island gift: a flower garland or lei. Kids will enjoy the task of creating a lei for Zazou by solve 1 of 3 flower puzzles (placing the correct flower type and number of flowers on the strand ) to complete the necklace. A nice touch here is that when you touch the different flowers the name of the flower is spoken, so kids learn what flowers grow in that part of the world. Every few pages your child will encounter more game activities. Along the trip, they take a swim in Hanavave village, visit the Omoa village where the friends meet a native man and collect fruit to put in their basket to eat later, and sail to the Touamotu Islands on there itoito (type of sail boat).
While out on the water they meet a variety of water characters (stingray, hammerhead shark, sea turtle) and visit a pearl farm along their water journey where they learn a little about pearls and play a slight of hand/find-the-pearl-in-the-shell game. These friends also visit the Otokau reef island to catch crabs and play a mole mash game where you tap the right colored crab as it pops up from the sand hole in the least amount of time to win a ribbon, meet Manua (whose job is to take care of the coconut grove) and learn about coconuts, as well as get a chance to taste coconut milk. In Tahiti, Lulu and Zazou arrive just in time for a traditional cultural festival that includes dancing, music and boat racing.
I have to say that the animations on this page were my favorite featuring traditional costume and dance — it was just silly fun to see the cat (Zazou) dancing along in a grass skirt. Kids will help Lulu compete in the va’va (canoe-type) race. I didn’t win the race the first time, but the second time I won setting off a pretty display of fireworks. But, what journey is complete without learning something about the local cuisine? Kids will like helping Lulu and Zazou make a Tahitian salad with some rather interesting local ingredients — including raw fish. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as they arrive in Bora Bora for a tropical drink and post card writing. Here’s where Kids can write (or draw a picture on) a virtual post card to send to family or friends through email.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed Lulu in Polynesia, at times Zazou sounded a little strange and not consistent throughout the story to me, so I couldn’t determine if his voice was just cute and quirky or just off-putting. In addition to this, some of the other characters’ lines/sayings struck me as slightly odd, but overall, this is a wonderful and educational iPad book (with a tad bit of bonus geography thrown in) that is sure to capture kids’ attention and imagination due to the spunky main characters, colorful and fun artwork, exposure to another language, cute animations, and just the right amount of information and fact given on each page for young kids to absorb without boring them. After reading through this iPad book, a Polynesian vacation sounds wonderful right now. And you? Check out all of our iPad app reviews. Crazy Mike
Lulu in Polynesia iPad App Download