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by Ján Uliciansky & illustrated by Miloš Kopták

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 23rd, 2011
Publisher: iAdverti s.r.o.

First and (so far) only English edition of a Slovak novelist and playwright’s dreamlike encounter with a neighbor’s unborn child.

The playful, semi-surreal illustrations in this ethereal tale are reminiscent in tone to The Little Prince, a connection enhanced by explicit direct references to the classic at beginning and end. The narrative plaits together three elements: the author’s introspective commentary, conversations in a dark, stalled elevator with a naive child claiming to be “prematurely lost” and that child’s brief visits with the women (mostly older mothers) who occupy the building’s apartments. The app’s simple but effective digital effects (all of which can be stilled or switched off) include ambient background music with occasional quiet sounds. Stars, lamps and other items spin, fall, light up or drift from side to side at a stately pace and can be controlled in limited ways with a fingertip. An innovative language-switching feature transforms the pages of text from English to Slovak and back with a turn of the tablet. Minor translation glitches aside, the episode offers a nourishing set of simple philosophical observations (“The most important thing is to know where one belongs”) presented in oblique but not impenetrable language, a character gallery of moms and intricate, sophisticated illustrations that reward both visual and tactile exploration.

Despite an adult narrative outlook and structural complexities, there’s plenty here for ruminative young readers to latch onto—just like The Little Prince. (iPad storybook app. 10-14, adult)