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MAID MARIAN MUFFINS by Jamie Vander Salm


by Jamie Vander SalmJessica Vander Salm illustrated by Ana Benaroya developed by Maid Marian Muffins LLC

Maid Marian is a Brooklyn resident who, with her dog Marvin, can't seem to find a decent blueberry muffin in the entire borough. Their fruitless quest gives Maid Marian the idea of baking her own, leading to a muffins-by-bike enterprise that exists in the real world. The idea of a children's story app that is in part one big advertisement for "Maid Marian" Jessica Vander Salm's business may strike some as suspect (the story and app were created by Vander Salm and her brother Jamie). It's not lacking for cute, funky illustrations, though, and it has a fresh, playful tone throughout. The narration is enthusiastic (almost excessively so), and Marvin's expressions (spitting out a subpar muffin, plaintively donning a chef's hat) are funny. The trial-and-error process of creating the perfect blueberry muffin is also detailed amusingly—"They baked muffins that slouched… and muffins that shrunk… and muffins that sweated and smoldered and stunk"—in quite good less-is-more prose. The app eschews any interactive elements except page swipes, but it's got personality to make up for that. The illustrated New York locales give the app a strong sense of place, and an About the Authors page might make readers wonder why more children's-book apps fail to feature author/illustrator information. Even if it's a business ploy, it's an entertaining, seemingly well-intentioned one. Who can't identify with love for a delicious, fresh-baked muffin? (iPad storybook app. 3-10)