Loads of animation and interactivity can’t save this slight story.
Subtitle: Interactive Storybook
Author: Jill Hackett
Illustration and Animation by: Jill Hackett
Music and Sound by: David Rees
Produced by: Thinknerve LLC
Developed by: Grids interactive
Platform: IOS, requires 5.1 or later
K-Gr 2-Emma, a wide-eyed child, invites viewers into her 3-D world, through animation and interactivity. On opening the app, users watch as a city lifts up, much as it might in a pop-up book, and along with the character they enter a “dreary” landscape where prompts await. The story is slight: children lift off with Emma in a hot air balloon and fly through “vast fields” and a “dangerous forest” in search of the “right place” for the girl. Viewers must assist her as she pushes, pulls, cuts, and tears her way through the tale. While children who are used to swiping the screen to advance a story may feel frustrated initially, it won’t take them long to figure out what to do in here. The easy-to-follow directions are both visual and written; at times the word “tap” is visable, an area of the screen lights up, or an arrow appears. However, the story is slow going as there are several screens to interact with between lines, which appear in different font types and sizes (some of it may be difficult for beginning readers to decipher). Throughout the app, pleasant music plays in the background and sounds such as buzzing dragonflies and howling winds add atmosphere.
To change settings, viewers can tap on a small balloon icon in the corner of each scene. Options include recording a personal narration. Except for a look at author’s storyboards, which show how the project began on paper before coming to their screen, the section of “extras” is clearly intended for at adults as it links to Twitter, Facebook, and the iTunes store. While the animation may intrigue children the first time they view the app, there’s not enough here to bring them back.— Andrea Lynn Pavlik, Youth and Parent Services Librarian, Huntington, NY