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THE LION AND THE MOUSE HD by Stepworks Company


developed by Stepworks Company

Age Range: 2 - 8

Pub Date: July 22nd, 2010
Publisher: Stepworks

Neatly balancing between too complicated and too simple, this app packs an abundance of cuteness into a deceptively minimalist package. In retelling Aesop's fable about a fearsome lion, an act of kindness and the rescued mouse who returns to repay it, this app modernizes the presentation but wisely eschews unnecessary features. Two unobtrusive white arrows on the lower corners of the screen control page turns (and "ding!" when pressed), but other than that, there's only beautifully textured illustrations, animation that's lively but not overwhelming and some charming voice work and sound effects. The optional narration is read by a young British girl who over-enunciates winningly. The deliberate reading enhances the story of interspecies friendship, as do the unexpectedly effective growls and "squeak, squeak!" audio effects that are played when the titular characters are touched. When the Mouse frees the Lion from a hunter's net and he falls down to the ground, the background scrolls as readers follow his downward trajectory. It's effective without being too showy. The admirable use of restraint sets the story apart from so many cartoons and animated book apps. The illustrations, including extreme close-ups of Mouse's potato-like skin, are reminiscent of Eric Carle's collage artwork. "A little kindness is never wasted, Your Majesty," the Mouse tells the Lion at the story's conclusion. Neither is a little bit of thoughtful, well-executed storytelling—truly adorable. (iPad storybook app. 2-8)