Choice reproductions of artwork from the National Gallery of Art are matched with letters and words for some amusing, very simple interplay with readers.
The format here is straightforward. The letters of the alphabet are arrayed on the screen; press any letter, and up comes a page comprising the letter, a few words starting with that letter and a piece of art whose title begins with that letter. Touch M for Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps’ Monkey Paging Through a Book, along with an upper- and lowercase M and the words “magic,” “media” and “monkey.” A brief narrative identifies the letter and introduces the artist. Touch the painting, and the monkey moves around a little; other artwork breaks out in furling ribbons of color or a swarm of musical notes. Each page has a movable creature—a cutout cat, duck or fish—readers can squire about (and sometimes leave a stream of glitter). There is something of a disconnect between the artwork, which can be pretty sophisticated stuff, and the age of the audience, which is fairly young considering the simplicity of the animation. Fodder, then, for the 4-year-old future museum curator. But it would be wrong to underestimate anyone’s curiosity in that lion’s-head door pull from 16th-century Germany.
Though some of it may sail over the audience’s heads, this shot at early art appreciation is certainly worth the chance. (iPad alphabet app. 4-8)