A new version of the original story line from an animated British television series first shown in the ’50s features a close, if less anthropomorphic, cousin of Thomas the Tank Engine.
“Not very long ago, in the top left-hand corner of Wales, there was a railway.” When Ivor, the one locomotive on that railway, hears the local Grumbly and District Choral Society and develops a yen to join in, it’s up to Dai Stationmaster and engineer Jones the Steam to figure out the problem and track down a properly mellifluous set of organ pipes to replace the engine’s whistle. Viewed through a window that occupies half the real estate on each portrait-mode–only screen, the informal pen-and-watercolor illustrations (done by the original cartoonist) pan and zoom slowly as an avuncular narrator reads, backed by sprightly brass background music supplemented by the occasional bit of dialogue or song. A tap on either bottom corner turns the page. Though there is no quick way to skip screens and no option to turn off the narration while keeping the background sounds, the tale flows smoothly along to its happy, musical resolution. An “Ivor” game is available as another app.
With unassuming art and both prose and characters sporting low-key Welsh inflections, this is an engaging natural for both shared and independent reading. (iPad storybook app. 7-9)