This “multi-touch” children’s book aims to minimize distraction, but in the process, it ultimately neutralizes the power of the medium.
This adaptation was built using the iBooks Author tool from Apple and thus must be read in the iBooks app. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that there are clearly limitations on what the interface is capable of. Within the story itself there are four “tap here” activities: two that activate extremely basic animations and two that give readers the ability to complete trivial tasks. Other than that, the story is indistinguishable from its ink-and-paper version. There’s no narration, no music and no tap-sensitive text. There is, however, an activities section that sports a Mad-Libs–style fill-in-the-blank thank-you note; a “spot the difference” illustration comparison; and a maze that must be solved in readers’ heads, as there is no tactile way to trace a path. The multilingual “thank you” dictionary teaches the phrase in 10 different languages, complete with audio clips of pronunciations. It’s not necessary (or productive) to clutter up a storybook app with gratuitous noise and motion. But a tablet does have the potential to deepen the reading experience, and this one definitely stays in the shallow end of the app pool.
If the curious protagonist in this story were reading his own tale on an iPad, he might get a little bored. (iPad storybook app, 3-6)