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THE BIG WORD FACTORY by Agnès de Lestrade Kirkus Star


by Agnès de Lestrade & illustrated by Valeria Docampo & developed by mixtvision Digital

Age Range: 5 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 2013
Publisher: mixtvision Digital

There’s nary a word wasted in this love letter to the power and beauty of individual words.

In a “peculiar land” where people must “buy and swallow the words they want to speak,” a poor boy named Paul can’t afford to tell a girl named Marie that he loves her. Paul is up against a boy whose family’s wealth affords him the ability to use as many words as he likes. In the end, Paul’s mere three words—cherry, dust and chair—are enough to make Marie notice. The sweet and simple story, based on the traditional book Phileas’s Fortune (2010), is greatly enhanced by elegant animation and interaction. Deep reds highlight Marie and Paul’s story against the gray gloom of an industrial word factory that towers over their town. Words are cannily deployed as hidden extras. As the story opens, categories of words for sale, including “Obsolete Words” (dungarees, brume) and “Funny Words” (gewgaw, drizzle and of course, gobsmacked), float down as little slips of paper. The app otherwise brims with clever touches, such as a language game for sorting words into three available languages: English, German and French. There’s also a link to a six-minute video version of the story.

Budding language nerds or anyone who’s a sucker for a humble little love story won’t have trouble finding the right word for this app: “delightful.” (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 5-12)