A city has lost not only its magic, but its very spark of life in this pint-sized philosophical app.
Eric lives in a city without color or joy, but it does have a lot of cars. And a subway, likewise. (There is a distinct French flavor here, but no one’s going to confuse this burg with Paris.) One day there is a bigger traffic jam than usual, caused by a clown taking an elephant for a stroll while conjuring a jungle to make it all look natural. The circus has come to town, but the mayor and the men in gray don’t like it, and the townspeople don’t care. The clown shows Eric how his secret illusion-making device works before having to flee the authorities. Eric fiddles with the device, the results of which slowly start awakening his fellow citizens. The mayor is so besotted with the new color and joy, he establishes a factory of far-fetched ideas and even invites the circus back to town. The naïve-style artwork shines, from swaths of luminous color to spidery, Edward Gorey–esque linework, and though the interaction is minimalist in character, what there is has a muted dazzle. The story, however, is in the driver’s seat; with each frame, readers must choose to toggle text and narration on.
It’s a droll salute to the pursuit of happiness, easily digested but with a fair measure of sophistication. (iPad storybook app. 7-10)