An interactive introduction to three female friends linked by their love of horses and a fantastical adventure.
When summer vacation starts with a downpour, Shelby, Annalee and Cammie, all 12, are challenged to amuse themselves in the barn at Crooked Creek Stables, which is owned by Shelby’s mom. Boredom has set in when an unfamiliar gray horse with a magical mark on his neck appears both in the story and as an image that slowly materializes on the screen. Despite many warnings about the dangers of an unfamiliar animal, Annalee rides the horse, which they name Magic, and her friends follow alongside as he leads them back in time to a medieval adventure. Each girl bonds with the horse, and their individual interactions showcase their distinct personalities and provide a brief window into their lives. Leveraging the digital format, the text includes high-quality sound effects such as falling rain, hoofbeats and a variety of nature sounds, which not only flesh out the immediate situation, but are well-timed to enhance rather than distract from the overall reading experience. Images, mostly of Magic, are used sparingly, maintaining a pleasing rhythm with the text. Each "page" appears to be made of a warm homemade paper edged by greenery, such as ivy and clover, that changes with the flow of the text. The overall effect of the design makes the digital book an art object in itself.
Well-used technology paired nicely with solid characters make this a promising series opener. (iPad fantasy app. 8-10)