Despite its labored plot, this cotton-candy–sweet tale of opposites who accomplish a monumental task by working together has some merit.
Elfizz, a talented magician and restaurateur on Rainbow Island, could not be more different than Maggie, the pleasantly plump proprietor of the Gingerbread Nook. But in a mythical world where “miracles happen every day,” two opposites can accomplish great things in the spirit of cooperation. The upside? The narration is solid, and easy-to-use navigation and a high degree of interactivity keep readers engaged—to a point. Unfortunately, the tale founders in the Sparkling Sea. The book takes an awkward text-picture-text-picture approach, introducing the main characters on pages that do not bear their images. Elfizz’s eager-to-please ghost waiter is on the page, but readers must turn the page to see Elfizz. Readers see a bunch of sweet treats from her bakery, but no Maggie until the following page. This approach also means that some pages are simply too text heavy, with the potential to overwhelm young readers. Moreover, the pace is lumbering and clunky. In partial compensation—and pursuant to the series’ goal of developing "conscious reading skills"—the app plants discovery questions/points at the bottom of each frame.
In the end, these intellectual delights may save the cake for some readers. (iPad storybook app. 5-9)