The One2One Network recently sent us an episode of Busytown Mysteries, a new Richard Scarry stories based Cookie Jar TV show. I didn’t grow up reading many Richard Scarry books, but I did recognize the characters. Emma and Johnny both loved the two 11-minute mysteries we were sent to review. Johnny found the second mystery (involving a dragon) terrifying, but he still wanted to watch it. I liked the logic of asking “who, what, when, where, why, how”, and I really liked that they went to the library to do some research in the dragon mystery.
Both Emma and Johnny enjoyed the free online game, although Johnny is too small at 23 months to play it on his own. Emma is a pretty computer-savvy not-quite-four-year-old (she mastered the scroll wheel at 5 months, probably thanks to the months she spent sitting on my lap while I edited my doctoral dissertation), so she had no trouble figuring out how the game worked. Your child can choose to be one of six different characters. Emma’s favorite part of the site was choosing her character’s car. My kids also love this Busytown Mysteries cooperative board game!
The park portion of the game has a movie theater where you watch clips from the show. I found it a bit odd that each clip ends just as the characters begin to solve the mystery. There is a counting game you can play at the wharf, as well as a garage where you can customize your car and an art gallery for creating masterpieces. My favorite part of the online game was the country, where plants could be planted in the garden and garbage could be sorted into different recycling bins. I would have liked to see the addition of a compost bin in the recycling center. You can gather baby butterflies to return to their mothers (a matching game), as well as bits and pieces to use to create a collage. I really like both the butterfly and collage idea. However, I was a little disappointed that, when you get to the collage-building and butterfly-matching parts of the game, you aren’t given the butterflies and collage pieces you collected, but are instead presented with a seemingly random assortment. I also felt that the butterfly game was a bit too complex – sometimes you had to sort through dozens of screens of baby butterflies to get a match, to the point where it occasionally felt more like a Vegas slot machine than a matching game. I was very excited to see that the online game was supposed to be available in French since I’m trying to raise my children to be at least partially bilingual, but when I tried clicking on the links to the French version I just got a black page.