Affection for his boy boosts a pet monster’s confidence with spectacular results in a breezy, enjoyable app.
In a world where people keep brightly colored, friendly monsters as companions—sort of like overgrown dogs—a kid named Ben receives a blue beast named Gurk as a birthday gift. Gurk is sweet but terribly shy. The puppylike creature hides in a closet and won’t interact with anyone but Ben. Gurk’s shyness causes Ben to miss the circus, but to make up for it, Gurk organizes an all-monster circus that turns out to be even better than the regular one. Soon, Gurk is teaching other monsters how to overcome their own shyness. Narrated in the voice of Ben with boyish enthusiasm, the story presents plenty of surprises, mostly in background animations. As in many other apps, touching characters and items on the screen creates little moments, but these are especially clever, fitting in well with the skewed, atomic-age art style. There are also eight games, but they’re short and simple, enhancing rather than distracting from the story. A high-wire balancing game at the circus and another that involves shooting marshmallows at targets are highlights. There’s lots of energy in the presentation, even with navigation that is unobtrusive and neat.
As a story, it’s rather slight, but it does what it sets out to do well and with a sunny disposition to boot.(iPad storybook app. 4-7)