An artistically inventive tale, rendered clunky and frustrating by interactive features of, at best, amateur quality.
Following an introductory frame story, Evangelina, a young artist who spins nighttime tales for her toys, describes how she and her mother pay a visit to a real zoo after old boots and other clothing inspires her to fancy herself as various animals. The zoo animals are photographed; the imagined ones are childlike drawings superimposed over more finished paintings of Evangelina’s face or other images. Selected screens have single, simple touch-activated changes of color or figure position, primitively signaled by printed instructions in the margin that locate the one area that will respond to a tap. Like a paper flip book, these changes are accomplished with short sequences of nearly identical separate images which, though they shift invisibly the first time through, must be manually scrolled back one screen at a time to replay the effect or, for that matter, even to page ahead. The story downloads into iBooks, and tapping any figure that is not touch-sensitive invariably activates the reader’s menu bar, highlighting and search functions—all of which, except for the “index” icon, are irrelevant distractions.
The multilayered illustrations cleverly capture a child imaginatively transforming herself, but it’s impossible to read this through without annoying stops and interruptions, and readers accustomed to the flexibility and razzmatazz of the better apps will be disappointed. (iPad enhanced e-book. 6-8)