Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nancy Drew: Shadow Ranch, iPad app (ages 8 - 12)

If you have a budding sleuth, a mystery lover or perhaps a reluctant reader, you might enjoy trying out a new eBook for the iPad: Nancy Drew: Shadow Ranch. This is an interesting example of taking a full novel and adding interactive features to pull readers along. While I found the experience not as satisfying as a traditional story, it hooked several 4th and 5th graders, even those who don't traditionally like reading mysteries.
Nancy Drew: Shadow Ranch
story by Carolyn Keene
iPad app and iPhone app developed by
Her Interactive
published Feb 23, 2011
reviewed May 5, 2011
available in iTunes
Nancy, Bess and George have traveled to Arizona for a vacation at Shadow Ranch, the dude ranch run by Bess and George's aunt and uncle. But when they arrive, they find the ranch is having a terrible time with ghost sightings and accidents that are driving customers away.  Legend holds that Dirk Valentine's faithful ghost horse is haunting Shadow Ranch. So Nancy and her friends set out to see exactly who's behind these mysterious events - could it really be a ghost horse, or maybe someone is trying to drive business away from Shadow Ranch.

The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew, No. 5)The story on the iPad/iPhone app is basically the same as was first published in 1931, then revised in 1965 and 1993 Nancy Drew: The Secret of Shadow Ranch. It's a classic Nancy Drew, but the iPad adaptation adds some interesting features for young readers. There are several places where readers choose what path to take, much like the classic choose-your-own-ending adventures. There are mini-mysteries to solve within the larger mystery, as you decode messages and identify suspects along the way. I especially liked the way you could look back over these mini-mysteries with the clues Nancy noticed highlighted. As you can see in the image below, this is meant for 9 to 11 year old tweens used to reading longer books. They'll like the illustrations, the sound effects and the collectibles you search for in each chapter (highlighted in the text).
Kids have loved the little games that are sprinkled throughout the story, a combination of hidden object games and word scrambles. I found that these distracted my reading, but they didn't bother the kids who have read this. The games are not particularly interactive, but they are enough to motivate readers who need a break while reading longer chapters.
Best of all, I am pleased that readers can discover the pleasure of cliff-hangers and reading mysteries in this new format. Give it a try, and let me know what your children think. If you like this, I'd encourage you to try either classic Choose-Your-Own-Adventures by R.A. Montgomery like The Haunted House, or a new popular mystery like The Name of This Book Is Secret.

The review copy promo code was kindly sent by Her Interactive. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

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