Three kids—Anna, Gino and Mark—are stressed out by the demands of modern student life and the distractions of the digital age. Their lives are therefore improved when a passing comet renders all the technology in their town of Sourapple useless.
The friends find that they'd rather go outside, making out shapes from clouds and playing hide and seek. It's a nice message, shown in simplified, modern cartoon art and well-executed sound effects that represent many of our modern conveniences as annoying, bleating boxes. The app's art style and sprightly interactive elements are nearly enough to make readers forget that every page is burdened with far too much redundant, overwritten text. Mark, for instance, "was a busy bee! He had school in the mornings, followed by afternoon lessons for violin, swimming and French. Not to forget football training and his school homework of course!" The English narrator is a young boy, an effect that is charming at first, then increasingly grating as the text goes on and on (and on). There's also a set of navigation icons that, confusingly, move to different parts of the page depending on the scene. The app is stuffed with extras, from coloring pages to videos; "The Comet Song," presented with lyrics, is as catchy as it is endless.
The irony of a story about digital distraction presented on the iPad won't be lost on readers, and, like a lot of the technology we have that's unaffected by passing comets, the app itself is a bit of a mixed blessing. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)