Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood - Moviebook

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
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Cool visuals, great music, amusing story update a classic.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the powerful part music can play in telling a story, from setting the tone to telling the story itself. Through the accompanying lesson plan activities, kids can learn about the included pieces of music and their history, but probably only with an adult's help. Though the app goes a long way to fostering some appreciation of classical music within the context of the story, there's no instruction or information about the music, composers, or young musicians. As an introduction to classical music and the story itself, Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood - Moviebook is a well-made update to a classic tale.

Ease of Play

Navigation buttons -- pixelated blue arrows and a pixelated house -- can be hard to see, but swiping to the next page works, too. 

Violence & Scariness

Wolf eats ducks, but it isn't shown -- only floating feathers.

Sexy Stuff

CD of the soundtrack available for purchase, as is in-app purchase for full content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood - Moviebook is an updated storybook version of the classic music-driven story written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in the 1930s. This version takes place in modern-day Hollywood, California, where young Peter has moved to the United States to live with his hippie grandfather and ultimately chases a wolf who's escaped from the zoo. Rock star Alice Cooper narrates, and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany provides the classical music selections. Another version of the app contains more interactivity and games, and the developer's website features much more information about the app's development, including some more suggested learning activities included for parents and teachers to use with younger children. Note that there's no privacy policy or terms of service on the developer's website. 

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What's it about?

PETER IN THE WOLF IN HOLLYWOOD - MOVIEBOOK is based on Peter and the Wolf, the classic piece of music by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev that introduces children to the instruments of the orchestra by making various instruments represent different animal characters. In this updated version, there's a new story: Peter moves from his native Russia to live with his grandfather, an aging hippie in southern California, and he goes on an adventure to find a wolf that's escaped from the local zoo. A single narrator -- in this case, rock legend Alice Cooper -- performs all the voices, and the app is underscored with classical music from Prokofiev and several other classical music greats such as Grieg and Puccini. The music is all performed by the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, one of the world's premier classical music ensembles for children, and all the visuals are hand-created models and illustrations. Teachers and parents can use a guide from the developer's website to help kids think more deeply about the story, its themes, and its music and can download the music separately.

Is it any good?

This musical storybook introduces a new generation to the wonder and whimsy of a classic story and its music. With cool visual style, great music, and an engaging performance from Mr. Cooper, this is an amusing way to introduce kids to Prokofiev's music. As far as ebooks go, this one's a winner: With standout art, a blending of music, and a modern twist on the story, kids will be engaged to the end. If you want to use it as a bedtime story, the parent section tells you how and where to break it into smaller pieces. But if you don't drill down to watch the making-of video or browse the slow-to-load music videos, kids might miss that the music is being played by children -- and that the music is really the main event here. Plus, it would be great to turn on captions so kids can read along. For more features, parents can download the other version of the app, but for a fun visual and audio adventure, this one works well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences between a traditional book and a digital story. Why do some books work well in digital form and others don't?

  • Compare the original music of Peter and the Wolf with this story. What's the same? What's different? 

  • Discuss how this app was made, from its inventive visual style to the musical performances by kids. Talk about what your kids might create to tell their own favorite stories. What might they build, draw, play, or create? 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Arts: music
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (full content available via $1.99 in-app purchase)
  • Release date: April 13, 2016
  • Category: Music
  • Topics: Music and Sing-Along
  • Size: 243.00 MB
  • Publisher: Giants Are Small LP
  • Version: 1.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later.
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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