Occasional animations, subdued sound effects, a dreamy orchestral soundtrack and a video clip plump up this electronic version of the illustrator/composer’s Book of the Dragon (2005).
Ciruelo does paint good dragons—spiky, winged, solidly muscular, dramatically posed and covered in shimmering scales of diverse hue. Here he sets them rearing or soaring over a variety of heroes or fair maidens to illustrate 16 short tales loosely based on Classical or European legends. The contents open with Hercules twice tricking guileless Atlas (“You are so stupid you deserve your fate,” chides the guardian dragon Ladon) into helping to steal the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. It ends with a two-minute video of the artist in action and a selection of dragon wallpapers. In between, it pits Siegfried, Perseus, St. Martha, the prophet Daniel and other brave hearts against a variety of dragons who usually, though not invariably, come out second best. Most, not all, of the tales come with a low-volume bellow or two plus at least one illustration that fades in, pans or features a little movement. There is no audio reading, but the texts are available in English and four other European languages. Since the “autoplay” option moves the pages along far too quickly even for speed readers, it would be better to stick with manual advance. The lack of notes means readers who want to explore more will have to do a little bit of digging to find the source stories.
Not exactly feature rich, but good for a few roars from confirmed dragon lovers. (iPad storybook app. 9-12)