Oh, the places you’ll go and the creatures you’ll meet wearing a simple paper hat.
In this whimsical tale by Dutch author/illustrator Bourgonje (Fierce Grey Mouse, 2011), childlike imagination takes center stage as young Finn creates a paper hat that becomes the perfect boat that takes him to the North Pole and back, by way of special friends. Here, the story itself is the charm, enhanced by seven narrator options in English and Dutch, beautiful music and spirited, if somewhat strange, sound effects. Bourgonje’s line-and-collage illustrations are curiously engaging, employing a palette informed by the hat’s dull newspaper hues throughout. As young ones enjoy the unfolding adventure, adults will love to word-search the paper hat/boat/tent/pool, not that there are hidden messages. Or are there? The navigation is clear, the typeface pleasingly old-fashioned and the extras—coloring activities, a paper-hat pattern and a karaoke sing-along—are all in good fun. Interactions are low-key; aside from independent video loops on each page, touches trigger exclamations, small movements, some atmospheric effects and occasional thought bubbles. Overall, though, it's hard not to think that this celebration of the imagination would’ve been better on paper, where readers' minds could roam freely. As an app, it’s just okay.
Bourgonje’s second venture in the app world, while not as memorable as her first, is big on story if low on action. (iPad storybook app. 2-8)