Everyone has been asking, “Where are the story apps for tweens and teens?” Well, here’s one for them. Will they respond to it? You bet. The artwork, the use of the platform, and this protagonist’s interior life are guaranteed to be all-s0-appealing to this audience.
Title: The Artifacts
Author: Lynley Stace
Illustrated by: Lynley Stace
Music by: Chris Hurn
Developed by: Slap Happy Larry (Lynley Stace, Daniel Hare)
Platform: iOS, requires 3.01 or later
Gr 4-9-Leave it to a couple of Australians to come up with a story about an imaginative 13-year-old boy who invents ways to entertain himself even when deprived of stimulus. Asaf is a collector of objects and treasures, a finder of gems that other people might consider trash. When his parents, exasperated by his clutter, leave behind his collections when the family moves, he is at first sad, but then begins to collect anew–amassing words, ideas, and facts until his mind becomes his treasure vault.
The narration of this 21-page story is automatic, but in order to find dialogue and explore Asaf’s thoughts and surroundings, readers must experiment with tapping and tilting, stroking and shaking. Not all enhancements are intuitive, giving the app experience a welcome exploratory quality. Especially effective and surprising are pages that reward repeated tapping with interesting words or amusing book titles. “Practical Onomatopoeia” and “Amoeba Almanac” are books every library should have—if they existed.
Stock sound effects are used in amusing ways, and the narrator’s voice is quiet and friendly. Mysterious storybook-style original music recalls Tim Burton movies, with wordless choral parts and tinkly glockenspiel. Subdued digital paintings match Asaf’s introspective mood, becoming gradually richer as he populates his mind with colorful thoughts.—Paula Willey, Pink Me