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LEAH & THE OWL by Cori Doerrfeld Kirkus Star


by Cori Doerrfeld & illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld & developed by Playtend

Age Range: 2 - 6

Publisher: Playtend

Pulling a full range of toddler emotions out of a simple fantasy with very little text and fewer than 20 pages, this adorable app is the coziest of bedtime stories.

Narrated by the title character in short bursts of action ("I am reading." "I am crabby." "I am Nakee!" she says before bathtime), the story of a typical night becomes magical when an owl enters Leah's dark room. Terrified at first, she becomes curious and finally soars away in the owl's talons. Leah visits dolphins, jumps atop the heads of crocodiles, swings with monkeys and slides down an elephant’s trunk before getting sleepy and returning home. The painted illustrations are simple but beautiful, conveying a wide range of emotion on Leah's face on every page. The presentation is aided greatly by the narrator who plays Leah, a child voice actor who makes everything the character does sound convincing. The interactions are toddler-simple: turning off a light switch here, nonthreatening, tap-activated sounds and movements there. There's nothing revolutionary about the app, technologically speaking, but it hits all the right notes in its underplayed visuals and musical score, as well as with its incredibly cute protagonist.

Leah's adventure with the owl is a lovely dream, and so is this whimsical app, which makes the magic feel effortless. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)