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THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams


by Margery Williams & illustrated by David Jorgensen & narrated by Meryl Streep & developed by Ruckus Mobile Media

Age Range: 3 - 10

It would be almost impossible to ruin Margery Williams’ heartbreaking story of a toy rabbit who wants to be “Real” and is loved so much by a little boy that “all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him.” But app developer Ruckus Media Group comes close with a lazy adaptation that includes a 24-minute video version narrated by Meryl Streep. The video was released in 1985, back when some might have thought the British accent Streep employs might be real. Despite its star power, the video looks dated and jagged on the iPad screen. Readers have a choice of watching the video, with pans and zooms across still images accompanied by a lovely piano soundtrack, or reading the text version, which lacks narration by Streep or anyone else and whose illustrations are lifted from the video (which was based on the book illustrated by David Jorgensen in 1985). The drawings are soft and dreamy. Text floats into the frame, often on its own page, as if the app’s designers couldn’t reconcile the story and imagery in a more efficient manner. At 112 pages, it’s a lot of swiping; it’s hard to imagine a parent will be able to keep a young listener enthralled for that long without Streep’s help. At least there’s a way to practice: Readers can record their own narration with the app. One last insult: A button to “Buy the Book” leads to a web page filled with children’s books, none of which is a print version of The Velveteen Rabbit. This app isn’t reimagined or restored, it’s simply recycled. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)