An African village child’s flights of imagination soar even higher thanks to exemplary art, narration and animation.
The titular expostulation couldn’t be more wrong. Sitting comfortably in a patch of shade, young Awa observes that the new plaits in her hair look like baobabs—thus sparking a remarkable chain of free associations. Taps on highlighted words in her ruminations bring quick glimpses of hooting monkeys and other animals around a mighty tree, piranhas and a caiman splashing in the Amazon River, and also masklike “genies” bobbing in and out of view with snatches of percussive rattling. Drawn with quick, scribbly pen strokes and bright digital paints, the rain forest scenes, the creatures within them and the skies overhead glow with colors—nearly always unexpected ones, such as a zebra that, with successive taps of the text, flashes stripes of intense green, purple and red. Adding cinematic touches, smooth pans and dissolves (almost all tap-activated) follow the twisting path of Awa’s reverie to a final close-up of her sleeping, smiling face. The designers avoid a common flaw by allowing the expressive audio reading, available in English or French, to be switched off without also turning off the animal noises and other background sounds. There is, however, no way to go back or start over without closing the app.
Quibbles aside, a terrific depiction of a young mind slipping off into vivid daydreams. Young readers will be hard put not to follow. (iPad storybook app. 5-9)