My Cat at Home in the Wild is the first book app from children’s author Jennifer Rogala and is based on her print book of the same name. It is accompanied by hand painted illustrations from artist Dwight Kirkland. As well as the story the book also includes some extras- a game, jigsaw puzzles, and information about big cats. The story does not contain any interactive elements- it is more like an eBook, all the interactive elements are in the extras. The story is narrated, there is no “read by myself” option. I really like the background music – it has a slow drumbeat and haunting feel, that reminds me of Native American music. The narration and music can not be switched off without muting the iPad.
The story introduces the reader to a grey tabby named Kingsley. Kingsley is an indoor city cat, but her owner imagines that she dreams of being in the forest, jungle or savannah like her wild cousins. The story tells us not only about Kingsley’s daily life, activities and quirks but also about wild cats who do similar things. e.g. “She climbs the curtains, like a snow leopard climbing the icy mountains of Asia.” At the start of the book each page is accompanied by a painting of Kingsley, as the story progresses many of the illustrations are split screen showing both Kingsley and one of her wild cousins behaving similarly.
I liked the parallels the book draws between wild and domestic cats, the peaceful background music and the hand painted illustrations. I would like to see some options added to support emerging readers- word highlighting as it is read and ability to switch off the narration. I also felt that the narration seemed rushed at times, so I’d like it read at a sightly more relaxed pace. Much as I like the background music it would be good to be able to lower it or switch it off for children who find background music distracting.
In the story children are introduced to a whole range of wild felines including familiar ones and others that may be new to them. If their interest is piqued they can learn more in the “Big Cats” section. This has a picture, information and sound recording for eight types of wild cats featured in the book: lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, pumas, servals and caracals.
The reader is shown a picture of Kingsley from the book and challenged to find the matching picture of a wild cat doing a similar action. This is a fun activity and also acts to reinforce what the reader has learned in the story – the names of the wild cats and their behavior. There are 15 pictures to match.
Each of the 15 pictures can also be enjoyed as a 32 piece puzzle. The pieces automatically are in the correct orientation and click into place when put in the right spot. This is a fun extra but it would be nice to see an option to vary the number of pieces so that it can be enjoyed by a wider age range, as it may be hard for some of the youngest readers.
My Cat at Home in the Wild is designed for children from 4-8 years old. I think it will appeal most to 3-6 year olds, but slightly older animal lovers will also enjoy it. It features Kingsley, a house cat, and a variety of wild felines, and will be a hit with young animal lovers. It features beautiful hand painted illustrations and a haunting background music track. I like how the book shows the parallels between domestic and wild cat behavior. The story does not have any interactivity but does feature an interactive game, puzzles and an opportunity to learn more about wild cats. It would be nice to see some features added to support emerging readers.
iTunes Link: My Cat At Home In The Wild – Jennifer Rogala
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