A gorgeous picture-book app adapted from a French animated film.
When beloved Aunt Eleanor dies, she leaves a mysterious old house to a young couple, a seemingly worthless Russian doll to their daughter and a library of books to their young son, Nathaniel. A struggling reader, Nathaniel is underwhelmed by his gift until he discovers that the books' characters have come to life, albeit in miniature. But a storm destroys part of the roof of the old house, and the books must be sold off to an antique dealer to help pay for repairs. When Nathaniel fails to read a secret inscription on the library wall, a wicked fairy shrinks him down to the size of the storybook characters, and he is taken along with all the books to the warehouse. Nathaniel must get back to the house and properly read the inscription or the storybook characters will fade into nothingness. There are more plot elements than can comfortably fit into a short app, particularly near the end, where the story gets a bit muddled, but the high production values more than make up for this. The stunning animation makes full use of varying perspectives, rich colors and patterns and is paired with an eerie and evocative soundtrack. There is a French-language option, as well as a pop-up screen with options that illustrate or define some words, identify vowels and switch from typeset letters to cursive. One minor quibble is that there is no easy way for readers to turn off the narration and read the book on their own.
Readers will become immersed in this spectacular world, just as they might with a high-quality animated movie. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)