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developed by Mindshapes

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: July 25th, 2011
Publisher: Mindshapes

A high-energy, modern take on the story of a boy and his magic beans, this app's solid presentation and slyly humorous touches make it stand out from other "Beanstalk" adaptations.

Jack, a hyperactive kid who sits in front of the television set playing twitch-inducing video games all day (even as he lives in a tiny cottage on a farm), sells the family cow to buy some beans, climbs a giant beanstalk and discovers a homicidal giant from whom he can steal an enchanted harp and a magic hen. While it doesn't quite match the standard of the Ayars Animation version, which was a more classical take, this app's music, animation and voice work are just as appealing. Each page is packed with small background jokes and items to manipulate, and the characters have a varied "library" of dialogue, so multiple taps do not always bring up the same lines on each page. On the other hand, some of the activities seem thrown in for no good reason; dressing Jack up in clothes and props has no bearing on what he's wearing on the next page, for instance. But overall the jokey  artwork (check out the '80s heavy-metal look of the giant) is enjoyable, even if the text and narration are by-the-numbers and at times sloppy. 

This zany version of the oft-told (and oft-app'ed) story makes up for its storytelling shortcomings with lots of personality. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)