A deliberate and shimmeringly creepy cautionary app that taps a hoary old folktale as it delivers the goods.
James is 9 and loves football as much as he suffers school. One afternoon after practice, as he walks home—to drill with his math tutor, for goodness sake—a sinister character in a trench coat, very Addams Family–esque, dangles a temptation before him: a cheat sheet for the next day’s math test. It doesn’t take long for James to scour his moral referents. He slips the cheat sheet into his dungarees. The setting is as bright as a box of crayons, and by pecking at the screen, readers can activate elements of the screen to lend to the whole affair the pleasurable engagement of a treasure hunt. (A narrator will guide those in pre-reading circumstances.) The Man in the Trench Coat has other goodies up his sleeve (which can usually be tapped to reveal all: a get-out-of-cleaning-your-room card, a sonic football that will make James a star). But with each false step, James looks in the mirror and sees a transformation: His nose is growing, his fingers getting long and pointy, his eyes sinking—he is becoming a carbon copy of the Man in the Trench Coat. James blanches, James considers, James confesses. Good and spooky visuals—a spindly hand emerging from James’ mother’s purse, flapping a 20: “She has more. She won’t mind”—paint a moral texture over the ill-doing.
An elementary karate chop to those temptations that undermine our integrity. (iPad storybook app. 8-12)