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THE NUTCRACKER by Francesca Cavallo


adapted by Francesca Cavallo ; illustrated by Philip Giordano ; developed by Timbuktu Labs, Inc.

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2013
Publisher: Timbuktu

Another adaptation of the popular ballet story.

This is something of a free-form storybook app, in that there are few boundaries in its presentation. While most apps follow the traditional left-to-right reading format, this one doesn’t even have clearly defined pages. Rather, it scrolls downward. Apart from the three “chapters,” there are rarely stopping places that don’t include partial text or graphics from another scene. Font and text color vary, which somehow adds structure. The developer was guided by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, a model that, among other things, encourages children to develop their own theories and frameworks. Interactions are often unconventional, with text and/or graphics sliding across the screen as though they’re on a pulley that’s triggered by scrolling motion. Readers can help Clara put the Nutcracker back together, prompt the clock to strike eight (thought it really only strikes once while the clock arms rotate) and complete such languid tasks as rubbing frost from a window or shaking a basket—none of which have much interactive payoff. The writing, supposedly presented at a fourth-grade level, is functional but wobbly in spots (Arabians are referred to as “Arabics,” for example). The music, of course, is from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, but it’s presented in ultrashort sound bites that end abruptly.

Unusual, but ultimately unimaginative and uninspiring. (iPad storybook app. 6-10)