Being afraid of monsters is just part of growing up. In my childhood, the boogey man was by far the most threatening. To tell you the truth, I was also afraid of the Sandman, because in my mind he resembled the Sandman from “Star Wars,” who wore what was essentially a beige hockey mask with a threatening black triangle for a mouthpiece. Enough to freak out any kid. And then there were the hodags, creatures that hid in trees that would get little children in the night. As we drove to his hometown in Mississippi, my grandfather told me that the Spanish moss hanging from the trees were the hodags’ mustaches as they waited to seek out their prey. Yikes! Children are usually afraid of the dark because presumably it obscures all the monsters hiding there. We’re not talking about “Sesame Street” monsters but instead the notorious monsters that live large, with a threatening presence, in children’s imaginations. Around the world, these monsters are rumored to want to “get” little kids. It’s a worldwide problem for parents.
But what if these monsters could be neutralized in some way, or better yet, made to be endearing? Is it possible that the Boogey Monster is just as afraid of kids as they are of him? Can zombies be seen as friendly? The surprising answer is yes, thanks to an amazing new children’s app called My Beastly ABCs by Duncan Studio. Not only does the app help young children cope with what to them is the very real presence of monsters, but it presents a lesson in ABCs that a child will never forget. From A, which stands for the Abominable Snowman, to Z, the previously mentioned zombies, My Beastly ABCs follows one young boy, initially plagued with a fear of the unknown, through his day as he discovers that the monsters he once feared want to help him, play with him, and even protect him from a bully. My Beastly ABCs is an incredible interactive storybook, complete with movie quality sounds effects, score, and highly amusing Vincent Price-style narration by actor Jim Dale, known for his work on “Pushing Daisies” and narrating the “Harry Potter” audio books. There are options to play the story without narration, if you prefer to read the story to your child yourself at bedtime, and each page presents a new adventure for your child to discover with the touch of a screen.
Some pages have games, like playing ring toss with a (rather indifferent) unicorn who says “whatever.” This healthy dose of humor is refreshing for parents and keeps the tone of the story lighthearted for kids. Other pages allow little fingers to help the young protagonist navigate his way through his next monster encounter. The visuals are really creative and will help children create a new, more positive and fun image in their minds of the monsters they commonly fear. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed this app, and I know we’ll be returning to it again and again as a favorite bedtime story. My Beastly ABCs app is available on iTunes here.
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