The latest storybook from the magical Midlandia is one that comes just in time for school. Too many kids are the recipients of bullying these days, and whether some realize it or not, it has become a huge problem within the schools today. As an educator I can tell you first-hand that it can be much worse than anything I ever witnessed growing up. I applaud the designers for trying to tackle such a big issue in a children’s storybook app for the iPad.
The story starts off at Harvest Farms, and in a large map form that is familiar to users of other Midlandia Storybook apps. Tapping on the location begins the story of Harvest Wannadogood, The Farmer…and Buck O. Bobo, The Banker. Buck is digging for treasure on the farm when Harvest comes across him. The Farmer doesn’t think there is any treasure located in his corn field, but Buck doesn’t want to stop digging. In an attempt to get his way he begins to bully Harvest by threatening to tell everyone that his vegetables are all rotten. The Banker, Buck is acting like a brat, and a bully, and is trying to hurt Harvest emotionally as well as wrecking his livelihood.
Harvest keeps a journal, and he talks about his feelings in an attempt to feel better about the situation. Over time Buck continues to harass and bully Harvest, who tries his best to remain polite about asking him to stop digging on his land. The bullying does not stop. Eventually they go to the Chief of Midlandia for guidance. They each tell their stories and the chief explains that Buck isn’t acting like a “buddy”, and is being a “bully”. Harvest thinks this is his fault, but the chief explains otherwise. He mediates the issue between the two, getting them to communicate about their situation and feelings. They come to a civil understanding, apologize, and become “buddies” in the end.
It’s a fairly simple retelling of what many young kids experience today…of course not all these situations have happy endings. However, it is nice to see the writers and developers explaining how these two worked through their problems.
The graphics and animations of the app are perfectly done for the iPad, and there are plenty of items to tap and interact with that actually enhance the story overall. For example, tapping on characters such as Harvest, users can hear what he is “thinking”, instead of just the words in the story. This is a great addition! The narration is very well done, and the standard auto-play, read to me, and read by myself options are available. As is turning the music on or off and having access to a table of contents. At the end of the story there are discussion questions to talk with kids or students about, which is exactly what should happen throughout the story, as well as upon finishing it. Overall “Be a Buddy Not a Bully” is a great addition to the Tales of Midlandia Storybook series, and is great for discussing a difficult subject with kids.
• Custom music, sound effects, and touch-activated animations
• “Tilt” and “Shake” features
• Word highlighting to aid reading comprehension skills
• Narration by the book’s original author
• Bonus story content available only on the iPad
• Does not collect personal information
• Does not contain ads or in-app purchases
• Does not have links to social networks