A Filipino folktale seems less than striking at first glance, but subtle visual effects in the app make it worth a second glance.
"In the boondocks of Bukidnon," a province of the Philippines, a datu, a storyteller and singer, loses his abilities. A jealous giant has stolen the datu's talent to give himself a melodious voice. When the loss of their artist sends the village into a depression, the datu's three sons go on missions to recover the amulet that gave the datu and the giant the power of song. The evocative illustrations, hand drawn with sharp strokes and an emphasis on faces, subtly change when the iPad is rotated to fit the page orientation. They change again when readers change the text and narration on the page from English to Filipino, bringing characters closer to the fore or making the scene move slightly. The optional narration is well paced and the text is direct, but colorful. "Agyu's only companion for an army was a limping horse," one line reads, next to an illustration of a bony, downtrodden creature. The app promises more interactivity than it delivers, however. It's mostly a straightforward text-and-illustrations piece in its "Let me read" form and little more than an 8 1/2–minute animated short (albeit a striking one) in auto mode.
Still, the story of the evil giant, the desperate storyteller and a thieving bird (the title character) is unusual enough in its storytelling and design to stand out in the app crowd. (iPad storybook app. 6-12)