An intricate, sophisticated and dreamy story of a teen’s hunger for not only food, but the world she’s built in her imagination.
In a near future where drought and poverty are the norm, teenage Roya longs for a rich midnight feast so she might forget her worn surroundings—but when she finally stays up for it, is not what she hoped. As with developer Slap Happy Larry’s previous effort, The Artifacts (2011), this app is packed with telling details, ripe artwork and an underlying melancholy. Moody, dark-hued painted pages detailing Roya’s daily life alternate with “B-pages” in which Roya’s mind fills with daydreams, nightmares or literal interpretations of things she hears or thinks; when she imagines her parents laughing their heads off, it’s shown. Many of Roya’s mental wanderings are less disturbing and more transcendent: She imagines a dance hall of shadowy partners in the body of her father’s guitar or a movie theater filling with popcorn. The sum of striking visuals, smartly restrained audio cues, subtle voice acting, unobtrusive narration and navigation, and always-relevant iPad interactive elements is more resonant than overwhelming. Younger readers may be confused and spooked by some of the story’s content; there’s an option to eliminate the “scary sauce” in the story (cleverly represented by a ketchup bottle).
Beautiful, haunting and completely original, Roya’s tale is a 12-course meal of intelligent storytelling. (activities, reading notes) (iPad storybook app. 9-16)