A letter to a friend, composed after a dreamy boat journey.
Backed by meditative solo piano music and “assisted” at each step by readers, a young narrator folds a paper boat. He then sets sail to gather up stars and other ingredients (mermaid’s tears, a seed, a flying fish’s feather) needed to plant and nurture a magical tree. The final missive, a tender “thinking of you” note that recaps the journey, appears on a leaf from the tree. The interactive features are sparse but well-integrated and sometimes even clever. After the easy-to-follow paper-folding animation, each screen of the multi-layered cartoon illustrations features either one to three draggable items or a tilt-sensitive movement. The pacing is kept stately by hiding the “next” arrow until the picture is touched, and the app “remembers” a crayon selected at the beginning that not only colors a flag partway through, but governs the color of the tree’s leaves at the end. Icons on every screen allow readers to start over or to switch the short text between English (with several typos) and Spanish. The lovely music can be turned off at any time, too, though it’s hard to see why anyone would want to. Despite an abrupt ending and the locked landscape orientation, readers can’t help but fall under this atmospheric outing’s spell.
More an extended e-card than a full-fledged story, but beguiling nonetheless. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)