Rockford’s Rock Opera by Sweetapple is an ecological musical story about extinction, biodiversity, the value of the natural world and bringing endangered species back from the brink. It was created by a group of friends (Matthew Sweetapple and Elaine Sweetapple, husband and wife, and comedian Steve Punt) in an attic in Barnet, Hertfordshire and was first launched on the web in 2008. Rockford’s Rock Opera is enjoyed in 100,000 schools all over the world. This year it is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and is now in the process of being turned into a feature animated film! With a production budget of $38,000,000 it will be one of the UK’s
biggest-ever independent films.
The story is unique in it’s format and delivery; combining pictures, animation, songs and dialogue. It is a truly touching story with an important ecological message. In essence, it is a musical story about a boy from Battersea called Moog and his Dog, Rockford. The underlying message is that one day we’ll discover the greatest secret of all; how every species on earth can live together in harmony. The creators, who describe it as Jungle Book meets Jurassic Park, suggest it is aimed primarily at ages 6-12 years old.
I downloaded all four of the parts on my iPhone from the App store (part 1 is free, parts 2, 3 and 4 cost £1.99 each). Each app contains extras as well as the story itself; including the music, story background and useful learning material (did you know that 99.9% of all creatures that have ever lived may now be extinct?!) as well as links to environmental organizations and charities.
The story itself is a good combination of stills and CGI (some quite psychedelic; it took me back to the Beatles yellow submarine), supported by clear narration and varied styled music – some with singalong lyrics (one of my favorite touches). Not wishing to give too much of a spoiler, the story centers around Moog and his rescue dog Rockford from Battersea Dogs’ Home, who find themselves travelling across the sea of tranquility to an island called Infinity; home to the last creature of all extinct species. Here they encounter many fictional creatures, including a small yellow sticky creature with a green stripe called a Cocklebur Ink, a ten tentacle octopus called a Dectopus and a menacing guitar playing mantis called The Registrar, to name just a few. Moog and Rockford must race to the centre of the island against the backward flowing river to stop the extinction of all dogs and humans on earth. But, given humans were the cause of many of the islands creatures’ extinctions, not everyone wants them to succeed.
All four parts run to 2.5 hours in total but is divided into chapters, making it perfect for bedtimes or car journeys. It has no in app purchasing and does not require an internet connection, so it’s 100% safe for children to use unassisted.
I have to say I fell in love with this story. It really tugs on the heartstrings and inspires empathy in such an original way. It gets the message across very clearly, and is hard hitting, yet also simultaneously approaches it in a sensitive and tactful way; it is a delicate balance that has been achieved remarkably well.
The songs range from slow, emotional songs such as ‘This Tail is True’ to really rocky tunes like ‘I Am The Registrar’. My absolute favourite though, is the incredibly catchy ‘Tale of The Cocklebur Ick’. This one has literally not left my head! I think not least of all because it carries such a strong message and is so thought- provoking. That tale in itself can lead to many hours of valuable discussion; indeed there are entire lesson plans on the website to cover just that part of the story.
The website is filled with tonnes of useful information, from detailed lesson plans to practical ideas on how to protect our environment. It also has loads of other cool fun stuff too, so do check it out! RockfordsRockOpera.com
I have an awesome Rockford’s Rock Opera giveaway bundle for one reader to win! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Competition ends on 8th July 2018.
*I was given free access to the apps for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.