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by Derek Yu & illustrated by Derek Yu & developed by Derek Yu

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Derek Yu

Considerably more polished of software design than art, story or orthography, this bilingual episode features a thoroughly cute ninja panda who discovers the peril of napping outdoors without covering up.

The story first sends the little blue-and-white panda out “to play with his friends today!!! yippee!!!” After lunch, little ninja panda ignores a warning from a pink ninja playmate and “kept his tummy out while taking a nap”—whereupon bored “thunder boy,” floating by on a cloud, zaps the outie off with a thunderbolt. A fruitless search and a tearful night ensue. Happily, not only does the nabbed navel arrive in the next morning’s mail with an apologetic note from thunder boy’s dad, Mr. Thunder, but a vague final scene reveals that the whole thing was either a bedtime story or perhaps a dream. Along with tilt-responsive loose apples, tap-activated sparkles, and a large number of other interactive animations and sound effects, the very simple silkscreen-style illustrations feature a stubby-limbed, all-panda cast depicted in various sugary colors. Simple navigation features shuriken-shaped icons to tap for page turns and a ubiquitous panda button to return to the home screen. The tale is related in English over Japanese narrative blocks that change in point size from screen to screen. The instantly monotonous clip of tinkling background music can, thankfully, be switched off; otherwise, there is no audio track.

A bit rough around the edges, but any mention of “belly button” will reliably elicit gales of giggles from younger readers and listeners. (iPad storybook app. 4-6.)