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Review: ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ for iOS

To date, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, created by Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate, has received more than 13 million hits on YouTube. Last week Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Two made it’s appearance answering what Marcel wants “but he’s not going to beg for,” what he reads, and why he’s always smiling.

Viewers who can’t get enough of this little guy will be pleased to know that Penguin has just released Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me in print and app formats. In them, Marcel expands on where he lives (and sleeps) and some of things he likes to do.

Title: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me
Author(s): Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp
Illustrated by:
Amy Lind, based on photographs by David A. Eckerson 
Published by:
Penguin Group USA
Developed by:
Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp, Big Bad Tomato Interactive, Penguin Group.
iOS, requires 4.3 or later  

K-Gr 3-YouTube phenomenon Marcel the Shell is now starring in his own app, faithfully reproduced from the recently released companion picture book. The lush oil painting spreads of Marcel and his miniature world each contain a few small interactive features. Stroking the goldfish causes it to blow bubbles, tapping Marcel on his tape measure catapults him into the sock drawer, and touching Marcel’s pistachio-helmeted head triggers objects such as macaroni and seeds to rain down and collect at his pink-shod feet.

Though initially interesting, these features don’t add up to much beyond what readers will get from the print version. The real star of the show is Marcel’s squeaky, breathy narration, as voiced by his creator, comedian and actress Jenny Slate. When the read-aloud feature is turned off, it may be difficult for young readers to decipher the often tiny, handwritten script text by co-author Dean Fleischer-Camp. Clear navigation arrows appear at the bottom of each page, while an open book icon at the top of the screen displays the full layouts of all the pages when tapped, so readers can go to a favorite whenever they choose.

The last page invites readers to take a look at other Penguin apps or go to the publisher’s site where they can view the original Marcel video and download activity sheets. While he still remains as cute as the button that he may use for a sled, Marcel’s precocious observations will probably be most enjoyed by young hipster parents as opposed to their offspring.—Jennifer Hubert Swan, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York, NY