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by Beatrix Potter & illustrated by Beatrix Potter & developed by Penguin Group USA

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 2011
Publisher: Penguin

While it's not the most elegant, magical app translation of Beatrix Potter's most famous work, this expansive edition throws in everything it can to reproduce and enhance the original text.

Penguin Group, the owners of F. Warne, the original publishers of the distinctive, diminutive book, takes great pains in an opening screen to let readers know that this is "The Original Tale of Peter Rabbit™." A little later, readers learn it is "The original and authorized edition." It smacks of insecurity, given that there's already a lovely, nearly perfect version in the App Store developed by Loud Crow Interactive. While the story and illustrations are done in a standard-issue paper-book format with optional narration and nominal animation, the extras are what make this version stand apart. Four sets of games—including matching, a "Hide Peter" game, "Hungry Bunny," which involves catching falling food, and a coloring option—are all expertly put together. But the stand-out feature is a set of four locations—the toolshed, the burrow, the wood and the vegetable garden—that readers can explore from the main menu or from within the story when a button for that area appears. The source material, of course, is always worth a read, but what in the hands of Loud Crow seemed revelatory (it set the standard for such adaptations), in this adaptation feels predictably by-the-numbers.

By taking a kitchen-sink approach, Penguin has made a fine, abundant app that easily earns its official status. But there's a better app out there that makes reading the story even more enjoyable and that makes this one pale in comparison. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)