THE CICADA AND THE ANT by Jean de La Fontaine


Age Range: 3 - 6
Available on the App Store
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The design and presentation of this familiar fable make it a sloppy, frustrating read.

This French version of Aesop’s “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” penned by the 17th-century fabulist and poet, is a lesson in interactive integration. There’s a tricky balance to adapting classics for reading on an iPad, in that it’s necessary to marry text to technology in a cohesive way. This app fails to do that. The narrative appears to be a loose paraphrase of the French original, and sentences are strung over multiple pages, which isn’t usually a problem with traditional books. But in this app’s interactive mode, there are tactile things to do before advancing to the next page. The taps and swipes yield lackluster payoffs—a chirping bird, a buzzing bee, or wiping frost off of windows, to name a few—but they must be completed before the page can be turned. By the time they’re exhausted and the sentence is continued on the next page, the fragment hangs without context. For example, the text on one page reads, “Not a single morsel of fly or tiny worm.” It’s not only grammatically incorrect, it’s nonsensical. Engaging dialogue could have easily driven this moral home, but instead, the tale drops off a cliff when the ant tells the cicada to start dancing.

The insects are cute but not worth the price of admission: storytelling fail. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)


Pub Date: March 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Seven Academy
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2013