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ROBO BUDDY by Skyreader Media


developed by Skyreader Media by Jayn Arnold illustrated by Jim Steck

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: May 23rd, 2011
Publisher: SkyReader Media

A lot of design creativity is wasted on a sub-sitcom-level story that never reaches for the stars, despite its Jetsons-meets–Marvel Comics approach.

This three-chapter digital comic tells the story of a boy who loses his robotic companion, Robo Buddy, one distant-future morning. Visually, the app appeals with its pop-art sci-fi backgrounds and its cartoon characters. The panel compositions are sophisticated and lovely to look at, with bright colors and sharp, inviting character art. But by the third chapter, when readers realize the action has never left the home of Robo Buddy's owner Dexter, it becomes clear there's no storytelling here. Robo Buddy took the family space cruiser out to get some cereal, which explains his disappearance (but which doesn't explain tremendous lengths the app goes to tell such a mundane tale). Background music is spacey and fun, but much of the voiceover narration (primarily from Dexter) is loud and grating. It's a feast for the eyes that disappears from memory almost as soon as the last page is turned.

Given the artistry of its interactive elements and the overall design, its shortcomings make it an even bigger disappointment than less-ambitious efforts. (iPad storybook app. 4-6)