Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries




Fun, free games with interactive stories as in-app buys.

What parents need to know

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
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

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
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

A lengthy, reader-unfriendly privacy policy explains the data collection in the app. Parents can sign up for a newsletter or connect with the developer via social media from within the parent's section.

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.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • vocabulary
  • following directions
  • reading


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • thinking critically
  • logic
  • memorization

Engagement, Approach, Support


The quality of episodes from both of the programs is excellent; kids will recognize the characters' appearance and voices. The stories play like a TV show with interactive features for kids to explore.

Learning Approach

Each episode teaches preschool life lessons, and the interactive activities within each are well done. The difficulty level of the memory games adjusts based on how well kids do.


Each episode includes a summary, a list of skills covered, and an age recommendation for parents. The parent's section also includes several learning activities for parents to do with kids off-screen.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • vocabulary
  • following directions
  • reading


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • thinking critically
  • logic
  • memorization

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

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.

Families can talk 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

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:Free (with in-app purchases)
Pricing structure:Free, Free to Try
Release date:June 28, 2014
Topics:Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice
Size:192.00 MB
Publisher:Loud Crow Interactive Inc.
Minimum software requirements:iOS 6.0 or later

This review of Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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