Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries App Poster Image
Fun, free games with interactive stories as in-app buys.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn vocabulary, practice reading, and learn about social-emotional skills. The stories inspire creativity and problem solving, and the activities can help develop critical-thinking and fine motor skills. Hearing the stories read aloud can help boost reading comprehension, and kids can read along or read to themselves as well. They also can tap on specific words to hear them pronounced. Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries is a fun way for preschoolers to get practice with early literacy skills.

Ease of Play

The interactive stories are very customizable -- kids can read to themselves, tap to turn the page, or have the book read to them. The games are mixed in difficulty, with some being more challenging than others.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The freemium model can add up quickly with each episode running $2.99. Kids see all the content available as they scroll through the options. A logo ad for apps, including several book apps that will be familiar to most preschoolers, is on the start page but is protected by a kid-lock screen requiring setting an analog clock to a specified time.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries is a freemium app, which means a bit of content is available for free but most of it is offered as in-app purchases. Kids will see all the available episodes and games -- both those that are free and those that require an in-app purchase. Each episode costs $2.99, and parents must set an analog clock to the given time to access the app store to purchase it. A few games are included for free in the Toy Box. The episodes combine an interactive book and show with the actual voices from the TV shows Caillou and Busytown Mysteries and include mini-games as part of each story.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

TOONTALES - CAILLOU AND BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES includes for free one episode and a few games. All the content is shown on a carousel screen that kids can scroll through. Free content is labeled; the rest must be purchased. Each episode plays like a cross between a TV show and an interactive book. Kids can have the story read to them or read it themselves. Each episode includes several interactive games, and the Toy Box includes a few free games.

Is it any good?

Enough content is included for free to make this a worthy download, but parents will need to be prepared to set limits on the in-app purchases or spend a bit of money. Kids can color pages from the extensive coloring book, play a few puzzle games, and play an increasingly challenging memory game from the free Toy Box. In the episodes, the narration is spot on with the same voices kids will recognize from the show, and the activities within each episode are educational and fun.

Disappointingly, the free episodes and paid episodes appear together in a carousel display, so it's very likely that kids will tap on an episode expecting it to play but instead be told they'll need a parent to buy the episode. When you select an episode from the carousel, you'll see the price, a summary, and icons indicating the skills covered (such as reading and fine motor skills) and the age recommendation. Some features can take a while to load or fail to load at all, requiring users to try again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about freemium apps and explain to kids their guidelines for what they will and will not purchase. Check out our article on managing freemium apps, 8 Ways to Save (and Spend) on "Free" Apps.

  • The interactive books are lengthy, so parents may want to read alongside little kids to help keep them engaged.

App details

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