As might be expected for a god, Hermes’ beginnings are far from ordinary.
Born at dawn, he eats nonstop and grows prodigiously—as the uncredited text reads, “The day of his birth was exceptionally trying for his poor mother.” Bored by nightfall, he slips out of the cave and straightaway happens upon a herd of “lovely cows,” which he steals before butchering and eating two of them. “Woe unto Hermes,” though, as those lovely cows just happen to be Apollo’s. As apology, Hermes presents Apollo with the first lyre—partly made from the horns of one of Apollo’s dead cows. Illustrations are largely watercolor with some collaged-in elements, most notably a cherubic Victorian face that cleverly belies Hermes’ naughtiness. The app is minimally interactive, opting for subtle animation and sound effects over finger taps in a way that prioritizes the story. The text is exceptionally well-synced to both pleasingly accented narration and page turns, but there is no advanced navigation or options. At the end of the story, children are rewarded with the opportunity to drive Hermes around in a bumper car, bashing the developer’s other characters (Bluebeard, Baba Yaga and Punch) and revealing satisfyingly puerile jokes with each crash. Its greatest liability is the absence of any kind of source note to contextualize the myth for children not already familiar with it.
A pleasantly understated alternative to the many frenetic apps on the market. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)