Two animals unhappy with their names make a swap in a whimsical, visually polished app with just a few needed features missing.
Mr. Elephant, a mouse firefighter, and Mr. Mouse, an elephant librarian, are part of a group of animals unhappy with their unfortunately mismatched names. They find some comfort with their support group, S.N.A.F.U. (Silly Named Animals Forever United). Tired of dealing with the confusion, the two decide to take up a friend’s suggestion that they trade, going so far as to swap occupations as well. But after a brief honeymoon, each of them begins to miss his old life and name. With clean, friendly illustrations, the app excels visually. Animations, including a very funny filmstrip-style instructional video, are deftly employed to comedic effect. The title characters are expressive, and their life problems, apt (a small mouse isn’t great at putting out huge fires). It’s clever, but the sound design seems incomplete. Narration is supplemented by some voiced dialogue as well as other sound effects, but the effects are not always smoothly integrated. Some readers will feel the absence of a musical accompaniment. Navigation is limited to forward and backward page turns. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to root for these two likable characters, who manage together to reach a wholly satisfactory resolution.
It’s a charmer of a story that could be improved with just a little more production work. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)