A moody, beautifully rendered dreamscape, this app about conquering a fear of the dark takes full advantage of the iPad's capabilities.
In a small cottage, a nameless boy is being put to bed, and Mummy tells him the Sandman will soon help him off to sleep. After the Sandman visits, a mysterious owl leads the boy through landscapes and starry skies to learn why there's no reason to be afraid of nighttime. Scary things, like a wicked, twisted witch, turn out to be more normal objects like a squirrel in an old tree. Dark silhouettes against dense, textured backgrounds match the story’s tone beautifully. There are neat surprises, like moons that grow to reveal hidden things, a maze of purple clouds that must be flown through and a simple but brilliant navigation wheel that brings up all the features through easy-to-access icons. But perhaps the thing this app has to offer most to readers, and to the state of storybook apps, is its joyous transitions. On one page, readers brush away the last page to get to the next. On another, sleepy eyelids come together to blackout a page before the next one is illuminated by starlight. It's all accompanied by a lush, classical soundtrack.
Though the story is simple, even obvious, it takes flight because of the ambitious design work, the kind of thing that can only be pulled off as an app like this. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)