A feline megalomaniac appoints himself king, gathers subjects and subsequently has a showdown with his mortal enemies—the clouds.
Even though the storyline is weak, author/developer Maaloul has infused this app with commendable elements of originality and creativity. The laser-sharp illustrations are anchored by muted shades of blue and green, while bolder hues are reserved for the characters and their surroundings. Animation is smooth and consistent, and there’s an interactive “help” layer that can either be set to automatic (meaning it's superimposed over every page) or summoned when needed by touching the question-mark icon. Readers can tap, swipe and tilt the tablet to muster movement and sound. One particularly delightful page features a cyclone that sends objects flying Wizard of Oz–style, triggered by blowing on the screen. Narration, which can be switched off or on, is engaging and adds a distinct dramatic flair, but the title pages between each page are definitely overkill, making for a horrendously choppy reading experience. As for music, there doesn’t appear to be a way to turn it off without killing the sound altogether, even though the developer’s website lists “music control” as one of the app’s features. The premise of the story is imaginative, but it’s never really clear whether the main emphasis is on Babel’s ongoing feud with the clouds or his delusional attempts at self-exaltation.
Charming and technologically interesting, but otherwise uninspiring. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)