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developed by Mr. Plot

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 2011
Publisher: Mr. Plot

A likable-enough new app series that takes place in a magical traveling circus still feels like it's finding its (trapeze) footing.

Available currently as a free introductory app and a second paid app, the stories are about top-hat–wearing, red-mustache–bearing Bita and his crew of magical performers. Bita himself has a neat trick: He can produce an entire gigantic circus tent from a small bottle he carries in his coat pocket. The first app introduces such characters as the strongman Rudolfo, the magician Oto, a contortionist, a tightrope walker and a clown who can blow up his body. (No worries: It's more like disassembled puzzle pieces and not at all bloody.) Unfortunately, it's little more than colorful character sketches cleverly advertising the rest of the series. The second app shows an actual performance and tackles an occupational hazard: The exploding clown keeps falling apart whenever he sneezes. The stiff text reads as if translated by an amateur ("It was night and he needed to rest before beginning the work of his magic-and-still-mysterious circus, at least for those people"). But the illustrations are warm and beautifully colored, characterized by simple shapes and bold lines. The performers manage to stand out from stereotypical circus types with what are hinted to be magical powers. 

There's lots of room for improvement, specifically in the storytelling (of which there is very little). But as an introduction to a potentially interesting new world, it's worth a peek under the big top. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)