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I’ve been reading to my kids since they were infants, at least one story a day (but usually more, at their request).  The books that they tend to ask for over and over again are the offbeat, silly stories about pigeons on the bus or a skivvy-wearing superhero.  For some reason the “weird” books tend to keep them much more interested and engaged, which in turn boosts their early-reading skills.

When I came across Monster Moogle I knew it would be an instant hit.  The silly interactive storybook app has some crazy-funky collage artwork and a kooky cast of characters (Thelma & Louise are technicolor goats).  Along with a funny story, the latest update added a mini-game was added that lets players create their own collages.

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There are two modes of reading: in the first mode players are treated to a clear voice reading aloud a story filled with new vocabulary and a truly adorable soundtrack of background music.  The second reading mode also offers the read-to-me style but throws in some interactivity in each page, reinforcing vocab-building and keeping readers engaged.

On the main page players can look through a gallery of the story’s characters; this is where Thelma & Louise and their crazy collage friends come into the picture.  After being inspired by mustachioed kittens, kiddos can go on to try their hand at creating their own moogly monsters – which can then be saved to the iPad and shared.

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My kids giggled the entire time they read the story and I had to referee when it came to the collage mini-game.  The story was filled with words that they hadn’t learned yet, and within the context of a story about different kinds of monsters, I knew the new words would stick.   And the iPad is now crawling with different scenes of parading, beanie-capped, ray gun-shooting sheepdogs.  (You have to play to understand.)

Downloading Monster Moogle will cost less than $2 but in order to unlock some accessories in the collage mode you have to make some IAPs – which is my only gripe about the game.  Even though it’s easier now more than ever to prevent unwanted in-game purchases, it’s just a step that I wish I didn’t have to take when letting my kids play their iPad autonomously.

With the cost of playing the only small exception, Monster Moogle is a quirky and well-designed app that will not only boost reading and vocab skills, but will also foster open-ended and imaginative play.  Three cheers for weird!

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