An eye-pleasing, imaginative ride through a dark pop-up–book world that's unfortunately too choppy and short to truly take flight.
In a paper city where everything is attached to the storybook by paper tabs, a girl named Emma manages to free herself and go on an adventure by tearing the tab on a hot air balloon. Text and narration along the way tells readers what they already see in the illustrations, that "[t]he fields were vast" and that "[t]he forest was dangerous." Even riskier are a paper tornado and a hole in the sky, the literal "The End" that would complete Emma's tale. She backtracks, terrified, and is able to get back on paper ground and make a home for herself among the pop-up buildings. For such a beautifully animated app, it's a shame that the story itself is so brief, lacking detailed twists and turns. The app also insists that readers interact with it only on its terms. Readers are instructed to "Tear!" "Jump!" "Tap!" in specific, purple-colored spots, and the story stops until the commands are obeyed. It stops the flow of the story cold and makes it feel more like operating a remote control than a fully formed iPad storybook.
Emma's world is neat, if a little grim, in concept, but without narrative development, it's as paper-thin as Emma's pop-up surroundings. (iPad storybook app. 5-10)