A softened-up adaptation of Czech writer Capek's short story, "The Man Who Knew How to Fly," this cheerily illustrated app still manages to convey a sense of what's lost when we leave childhood.
The ebullient girl in a red beret and polka-dot dress sails above fields and her cottage home, buoyed by starry magic. Drawn in a Golden Age vintage style, the girl's rosy cheeks and sweet smile follow her even into her sleep, where she dreams of her own airborne adventures. But soon, she's visited by a quartet of witch-like village teachers who demand to know how she flies and to measure her skill. Of course, that saps the magic from the little girl's talent, and soon she's not flying at all, left only with memories of what she once had. If that sounds depressing, most parents reading might agree, but the app does a skillful job of avoiding a maudlin conclusion with (one might say overly) upbeat music and a regained smile. The app blends its retro look with solid app design and a few well-integrated extras, like a coloring-book page, a dress-up game and the option of tilting the iPad to guide the little girl's aerial movements.
It's an adaptation that manages a tricky balance between heartfelt and hokey within an app that has a distinctive look and feel. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)