Interactive features solidly trump art, writing and factual accuracy in this quick but far from slick aerial travelogue.
Having selected a generic Caucasian boy’s or girl’s body and (optionally) personalized it with a portrait photo, readers are invited to grab hold of a magic kite and fly over eight U.S. cities (viewable in sequence or selected from a map). In keeping with the DIY characterization, readers can even add self-recorded comments to the (also optional) audio narrative. The leaden verse is nothing to write home about: “They eat Jambalayas here and have the famous Mardi Gras parade. / But you’ll have to be a bit older to watch it, I’m afraid.” Each cartoon flyover scene can be zoomed past the point of pixilation and features both a jumble of recognizable landmarks and several touch-activated effects. President Obama introduces himself in front of the White House, a boy—inexplicably—dances atop the Statue of Liberty and an outsized orca leaps in Orlando. After being blithely misinformed that rockets take off into space from Houston, Space Needle elevators fall faster than raindrops and that sharks prevented any escape from Alcatraz, the traveler ends his or her journey back “Home” (a draggable icon on the map) eager for further outings.
Readers may not be so sanguine in the wake of this flashy but superficial tour. (iPad informational app. 6-9)