An amusing, cleverly told story that plays off the glut of superheroes in pop culture benefits tremendously from an app design that's just as fun and engaging.
Rooney ("Not Captain Rooney or Commander Rooney, just plain old Rooney") is the new kid at a school full of caped, masked superhero kids. His home straddles the line between Majesticville and Normalville, and he's sent to school with no powers of flight, X-ray vision or super strength. But when a National Poetry Week event calls on the students to read an original poem, the super-powered kids balk... and Rooney comes to the rescue. Soon he's celebrated for his own unlikely superpower: the ability to give a speech without withering away from the assignment as if it were Kryponite. It's an imaginative take on fitting in at school; Rooney, an oft-injured kid who frequently visits the school nurse hired on solely for his benefit, makes a great main character. The hand-drawn scenes are packed with background details and colorful supporting characters (as in a great opening scene of Majesticville residents displaying their powers to sweep streets and deliver newspapers). Music, narration and animation that springs to life when the screen is pressed are all expertly handled. There's even a useful screen of settings that allow for more control over interactions; it would be nice if all storybook apps gave the option to disable accidental page turns or to control the volume of narration, sound effects and music separately.
Rooney's story is one any kid, super-powered or not, can identify with, and the app does everything it can to make his story into an enjoyably playful experience. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)