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THE UNWANTED GUEST by Jacqueline O. Rogers


by & developed by

Age Range: 7 - 11

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
Publisher: Moving Tales, Inc.

            Uneven synchronization of animations and voiceovers mar this retelling of a Yiddish tale about an old man driven out of his house when Poverty takes up residence.

            Depicted as an emaciated, hairless, passive looking goblin, Poverty keeps growing until the man is crowded right out into the yard—but then shrinks and is in turn driven away when the man shakes off his despair and, with determined labor, repairs house and fortunes. Using sharp contrasts and neutral tones to create a sense of formality, the art on each page is a short animated loop featuring figures making restrained, deliberately paced movements. The text, as read in an even tone in the voiceover, is likewise formal (“He wandered the purlieus of town by day…” “Life bends and folds where and when you least expect it”), and in the cleverest interactive feature it cascades down randomly on each page to arrange itself in order. But it’s also too long, as on several pages the loop begins to repeat distractingly before the narration is finished. Menu options include readings in Spanish or French, a self-record capability and an auto-run setting that turns the app into something like a conventional video.

            Strongly atmospheric art and story-centered design give this a leg up over more gamelike apps, but wait for an update with better editing. (source note) (iPad storybook app. 7-11)