Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe App Poster Image
Rich, emotion-focused ebook and games based on movie.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to identify and name their emotions and how to cope with them, especially by talking with trusted adults. Because the story and games focus on how kids navigate increasingly complex emotions as they get older and experience stress, kids also can recognize that feelings can overlap and compete with each other. In terms of reading, kids can hone reading fluency and listening skills as they progress through the story. Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe takes kids on an emotional journey and lets them explore the elements of the movie through text, narration, and creativity.

Ease of Play

Navigation can be unpredictable -- it's not always clear what's clickable -- but kids will figure it out with some trial and error.

Violence & Scariness

Scene where Riley cries in class at her new school might be tough for kids with similar memories, but it's more sad than scary.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

App is connected with the movie, and kids are likely to want to see the movie after reading the book. Parents can opt to receive emails and more offers.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe is a digital ebook of the movie Inside Out. The 26 pages recap the movie from start to finish, including clips from the movie, two games, and options for recording your own narration for each page of the book. The app's Parents Only section includes an option to share your email address with Disney Digital Books and settings to toggle sound, music, and narration on and off. It's accessed through a spelled-out number gate, and since many kids using the app will be able to read, they'll also be able to access the parent section. Though the price tag is high, there is a lot of content; however, parents may want to carefully gauge their kid's interest before fronting the cash.

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What's it about?

INSIDE OUT: STORYBOOK DELUXE is a digital storybook with a range of interactive features. There are three paths through the app: "Read" lets users concentrate on reading the book, "Play" reveals the two built-in games, and "Read and Play" lets kids encounter the games within the context of the story. Within the story, users can read silently, listen to the text as the narrator reads, or record and play back their own narration for each page.  After reading, kids can tap and swipe to move key items and characters on-screen, play clips from the movie, advance to the next page, and along the way collect stickers (such as a moustache and a bowler hat) to use as props in the games.

The two games let kids customize their experience and go inside the story. In Memory Spheres, kids select a photo or video from the device's camera roll and then select one of the movie's emotion characters to tint the sphere to a matching color and represent the corresponding emotion. Kids also can tap the whole team to give the image or video a multicolored border and suggest this memory involves many emotions. Kids then can add stickers, weather features (such as snow or rain), and sounds (they can record their own sounds or add theme music that corresponds to each emotion). Users then can save their memory spheres to the app's gallery or export them to the device's camera roll. In Dream Productions, kids can create their own (very silly) dream story. There are three story choices: "The Treasure of Dentist Island," "Vampire Beach Party," and "Kid Astronaut and the Missing Homework." The assistant director calls out prop needs ("a yucky food!"), and users drag and drop props into a bin. The dream story then plays out, and the selected props appear as Mad Libs-style entries in the story. 

Is it any good?

On the surface, Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe is a fun, interactive text for fans of the movie; more deeply, it's a nice tool to extend the movie's central and most powerful message: All emotions are valid and valuable. There aren't a lot of movies out there that focus explicitly on kids learning to name their emotions, and it's powerful that kids can use this app and this story to explore this important social-emotional learning skill. There are some nice customization features: Users can record their own narration for each page of the storybook, and the two activities let users be creative. One drawback is that most, but not all, features are read aloud; for example, kids have to be able to read the titles in the Dream Production activity, which might make it harder for nonreaders. Another is the price: For parents already shelling out for the movie, the price tag might be prohibitive. Also, be prepared for a long download time and occasional lag between pages, as there's a lot of content. For younger kids, this app might be a good way to let them preview the movie before braving the theater, and for older kids it might allow them to build on what they took away from the movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about emotions, the movie's core theme. Talk about identifying each of the five main emotions featured in this movie: fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and joy. What does each of these emotions feel like? When do you feel each of these emotions? Talk about the word you use to describe emotions and to identify which emotions you're experiencing.

  • Talk about how it's OK to feel different emotions, especially sadness. Riley feels so sad that she thinks she has no one to talk to. Help your kids understand it's always OK to talk to you about their feelings.

  • Discuss core memories: What are some of your kid's best memories? Some of the worst?

App details

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