Don’t let this well-written swamp story with its layered rhyme structure and sleepy narration deceive you: The mysterious gator will not hide forever, because lunchtime is coming….
In this app based on the printed book of the same name, the three-dimensional swamp and all its inhabitants come to life with tappable, interactive elements that engage readers visually. The duck dives, the spider weaves her web, the brilliant red insect crawls about the log, and the cricket jumps, while the words on the page are highlighted along with the narration. There are nine creatures who are all potential prey for the gator: the duck who paddles in ooze, the turtle who takes a snooze and so on. Conspicuously absent here are the swamp sounds: the crickets and frogs and that potentially fabulous ooze. The story is packed with powerful verbs that deserve ample sound effects, but readers swipe to the next page in silence but for the narration. A page index would have been helpful as well. The swamp tale ends with readers wielding the power to either give the gator his lunch or spare his prey. This is followed by a game that gives quick-on-the-tap readers the chance to spare all the creatures from the gator’s hungry jaws.
It’s visually first-rate, but this gator story deserves a few more digital enhancements—something sonic for a start!—to give the swamp the respect it’s due. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)