Swiveling, aesthetically saccharine 3-D pop-up scenes built around a diverse suite of drag-and-tap challenges will engage young readers far more than the classic story’s cursory rendition.
The app opens with a prince’s punishment for rudeness to a scruffy visitor: “Oh no! The witch has trapped the prince inside a giant rock. Tap it to help him escape! ‘Aaaargh! She’s turned me into a horrible Beast!’ ” Once he’s been turned into a comically furry, rotund monster, the familiar story plays out. He showers Belle (the “most beautiful of all,” but “bold and adventurous too”) and her dog Max with gifts before regaining his looks and marriageability by her kiss. The happy couple (plus dog) make up a final tableau that wriggles and emits bursts of floating pink hearts with every tap. Before that, dexterous viewers can save Belle’s father from a wolf and guide him through a snowy maze to a rosebush, sort falling leaves by color, assemble luscious desserts, beat Beast at increasingly quick games of pingpong and like diversions. An index icon on every screen allows quick skipping to any of the nine pop-up spreads (interspersed pages of text are not indexed). Readers can select silent, audio or autoplay options from a “Parent Center” hidden behind an easily foiled trick access.
Perfunctory of storyline and unsubtle of decoration, but with a rich and smoothly responsive array of animations, dissolves, transitions, sound effects and interactive activities. (iPad storybook app. 5-9)