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THE BROKEN MEOW by Lauren F.  Levine


by Lauren F. Levine & illustrated by Simon Scales & developed by Mobad Games

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Dec. 14th, 2013
Publisher: Mobad Games

A brother and sister investigate a case of barnyard animals making nonsensical sounds in a lively if needlessly active app.

Lizzie and Cal figure something’s amiss at the farm when the cat says “Iggy-Howl” instead of “meow.” A dog, cow, horse and pig are also missing their barks, moos, neighs and oinks, but when a vet comes for a visit, he determines that the clever animals are just having fun rather than suffering some sort of linguistic virus. The story is told in forced, rhyming couplets (“They ran to the barn / To listen for oink / But the big, pink pig squealed / “Bipsy-Kerbloink!!”). At 17 pages, adapted from about twice that many in its original book form, the story moves briskly and doesn’t overstay its welcome. But its soft, cartoon-curvy illustrations are enhanced with a 3-D feature that moves the characters and expands the backgrounds when the iPad is tilted or the scenes nudged with a finger. The effect adds movement to a story that doesn’t need it, and it creates a jarring effect on page turns as the objects on screen emerge. Though it’s little more than an unnecessary gimmick, some readers may appreciate having an activity on each page beyond tapping people and animals to trigger animations. 

The best part is the animals and their weird new calls. It’s a good thing those are not given short shrift in favor of 3-D or any other feature. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)