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by Ben Hecht & illustrated by Matthew Vimislik & developed by Mythos Machine

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2011
Publisher: VivaBook

A riff on the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” offers readers an eccentric inventor, a kitten and a handful of pallid interactive features.

Not only does “helpful” Nickelby make a nuisance of himself in Dr. Kafruganegel’s lab, he wrecks the whole house by losing control of the multi-armed “Clean-O-Matic” robot when the doctor steps out to run errands. Behind a Home screen button confusingly labeled “My Library,” children can opt for either a pleasant British-accented narration or any of several self-recorded ones. Even when the audio is turned off, however, the text scrolls slowly in and out of view on successive pages, blending into the bright cartoon backgrounds except for one or two highlighted lines at a time. Likewise taking far too long to load after each page turn, the scanty assortment of touch-activated effects range from muttered comments and subdued sounds to isolated items and figures that glow or can be coaxed to move. The animation is stiff, and Vimislik’s figures—particularly the Doctor, whose expression seldom varies from wide-eyed and open-mouthed dismay—are equally wooden. The narration is too often out of sync with the highlighted text, and the app’s audio track sometimes continues to run even after the tablet is locked.

“Awww”s for the cute kitten: “ugh”s for the slow and frustrating app. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)