The Magnificent Travelling Palace App Review
Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Kindergarten, Grades 1-4
Skills Developed: India, World Cultures, Storybook, Geography
Available On/Price: iPad – $2.99
Reviewed on: iPad
The Magnificent Travelling Palace invites children to enter an immersive world filled with the authentic sights and sounds of India. When four children learn of a luxury train filled with bedazzling sights that will soon be arriving in their home city of Udaipur they set off on an adventure to get a peek at its exquisite delights. Along the way, young readers will learn about some occupations in India, foods specific to the country, enjoy authentic background music, and explore interactive activities.
Filled with gorgeous, 3D computer animation and striking animated transitions, helpful icons point out interactive opportunities and trivia points that can be tapped to learn more about Indian foods. Children can tip and tilt the iPad to watch goods at the market tumble, paint a chalk lotus on the sidewalk, listen to real audio recordings from India and more.
The book includes three reading modes – read to me (narration with manual page turning), read it myself (no narration with manual page turning), and auto play (narration and automatic page turning). There is a choice of American and British narration – both of which are excellent.
Semi-transparent text boxes appear above the illustrations can be hidden to enjoy the full screen illustrations, or can be tapped to enlarge them for reading along or alone (in read to me and read it myself modes).
A toolbar is available on each page of the story, with options to return to the home screen, switch reading options, jump to a different page in the page index, and play or pause the narration. The app also includes a meet the cast section with brief character profiles, and even a recipe for an authentic Indian desert that can be made with parental assistance – both of which are fully narrated.
Other Notes: This app does not include in-app purchases, advertising, or social media integration. It does include text only website addresses, and parent protected email and rating links.
What We Liked:
The child-appeal of this app is tremendous! My girls have all given it stupendous ratings (thousands of stars) and my oldest (9) told me it’s one of her favorites. The mysterious storyline combined with top-notch 3D artwork, animations, and narration makes for a seamless ‘living book’ style iPad app that painlessly introduces children to the culture of India. My husband has been to India, and my children often wish they were able to go – for now, this app is the closest we’ve been to a trip!
Children effortlessly pick up pieces of knowledge specific to India through the general storyline (family life, occupations, food) and through the special pop-up facts and interactive objects – steaming chai pot, sitar that turns on and off when tapped etc. This is the living book concept, where children learn naturally through the storyline, enhanced and enriched for the iPad’s screen.
While the book doesn’t include as many interactions as some apps do – they are all tightly tied to the storyline and in most cases add educational value. Children are actually more likely to stay focused on the story while avoiding wild screen-tapping behaviors. The app also includes many helpful features such as navigation aids, easy customization of the audio experience, and text enlarging or hiding.
What We Didn’t Like:
The storyline includes a group of children 11 and under taking a train trip an hour away from home and back again while keeping it a secret from their parents. I was sure to point out to my children that they should always let us know where they are going and not to keep secrets from us.
It would be smashing if this app included word-by-word highlighting in the narrated reading modes.
The Magnificent Travelling Palace is a fantastical journey taken by a group of children in their efforts to find a luxury train reputed to be traveling through their region. While they look for (and ultimately explore) the train, your children will likewise be drawn into Indian culture and will invariably have their interest in this intriguing country piqued through the intriguing storyline and top-notch production of this app.
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!