Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island App Poster Image
Solid ebook sends mixed messages about gender stereotypes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn vocabulary words and develop reading skills by reading themselves or listening to the story, which will encourage kids who revisit the book to eventually read it independently. Most pages include a vocabulary word that kids can tap to see the word demonstrated. For example, when kids tap the word stomps, they hear it read aloud and then see the character stomp. Just as with any book -- electronic or traditional -- reading more improves reading skills, and kids are more likely to read about things they're interested in. In terms of messages, the Transformers need to work together to succeed, which emphasizes cooperation, but the gender-based messages are a bit confusing: Female characters save themselves, but the Transformers get credit. Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island has some fun interactive elements for emergent readers and some positive messages, but parents may want to be on-hand to highlight the females' self-reliance in the story.

Ease of Play

Kids can listen to the story or read it themselves. Tap to turn the page or use bar at top to jump directly to certain pages.

Violence & Scariness

Mild cartoon-violence including spraying robots with water and electricity and pushing a human.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A logo ad for other apps appears on the home screen and leads to a page of trailers and logo ads for several other apps. Kids can tap "Buy," parent gate is birth date. App ties in to the heavily marketed Transformers Rescue Bots toy line and TV show.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island is an interactive story based on an episode of the show Transformers Rescue Bots called "Dino Island." The story begins by introducing the villain and the Rescue Bots' mission. Scenes include some intense peril for the Transformers, such as getting trapped under rocks and carried away by drones. There also is some cartoon violence where the transformers shoot water and electricity at drones and push the bad guy. The background music intensifies the drama, but it can be turned off in the settings. Parents need to know that the story line includes a plot to rescue Frankie, the daughter of Doctor Green, and his female colleague, Professor Baranova, that does reinforce stereotypes that girls need rescuing; even though the female characters ultimately free themselves, the Transformers are credited with their escape.

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What's it about?

Kids can choose to read TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: DINO ISLAND themselves, have it read to them, or watch it on auto play where the pages advance on their own. Page selections across the top of the page make it easy to jump to certain parts of the story, and kids have a few places to engage with the story: fighting off drones or helping Rescue Bots change into dinosaurs. All interactivity happens through tapping, and most elements are highlighted when a kid taps on them to make something happen. With the Dino Cam, kids can take pictures of themselves with a Rescue Bot. Photos can be saved to the camera roll. 

Is it any good?

Though Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island has many appealing elements, it's more of a mixed bag than earlier apps. Fans of the Rescue Bots will appreciate being a part of the mission, reading and playing along with the interactive parts of the story. The graphics and voices are all excellent quality, and kids have options to read independently or listen along, which allows for young readers to explore in various ways. The Dino Cam is a fun feature, too, though it is tricky to center the images perfectly. Though the attempt to honor diversity is evident -- including female characters of color -- it appears at first to fall short, with the two women being in need of rescuing by a male doctor, a boy, and the all-male voiced Rescue Bots. The women turn that around, though, and escape on their own while the Rescue Bots are held captive. What could be a great message is canceled out when the credit for the rescue goes to the Rescue Team after all, with the closing line "Thanks to the cooperation of the Rescue Team, Frankie and Professor Barrow are safe, and so are the Dino Bots!" For some kids, the takeaway will be that the Transformers saved the day when the female characters actually saved themselves: a point that could be powerful with an altered ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the rescues in the story. Why does the Rescue Team get credit for rescuing Frankie and Professor Baranova when they actually got away on their own?

  • Check out our list of apps that feature strong girls as lead characters or this list of gender-neutral apps.

  • Use the ebook as a reading tool: After listening to the story a few times, see if your emerging reader can decode the words.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love superheroes and dinosaurs

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