Laser-crisp illustrations and a handful of gussied-up interactions aren’t enough to overcome this app’s significant design flaws, squeaky-voiced, vapid dialogue, and paper-thin storyline.
This app has major functionality issues from the beginning. Readers can supposedly switch narration on or off from the home page, but even when it’s set to “off,” the narrator dramatically reads text on the opening screen. Readers will likely find it highly confusing if not maddening to navigate from there, as the accessibility of the text, the dialogue and the directions are inconsistent and confusing in narrator-off mode. The story itself is weak and fragmented. Pandora, aka “Pan,” is the panda daughter of elders who disappeared while trying to explore ancient winds gone awry. Eventually, she learns about her parents and resolves to help find them, but none of the narrative detours before that realization serve that plot at all. The app ends as Pan runs away to find her parents, which of course necessitates waiting for Book 2 (countdown included) to see if she finds them. Though the Beribolts are supposedly an exotic, cloud-dwelling tribe, Pandora and her friends sound like a cross between gangsters and spoiled reality show divas.
Though there are a few showy boomerang games, exploding fireworks and dancing night bugs, this story is nothing more than literary cotton candy. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)