A young girl finds she can be happy without her newfound token of joy in an app that favors striking visuals over sound design or needless frills.
Forever frowning amid the gloom of cold rain and loneliness, a child identified only as “the grumpy girl” finds a bright yellow hat with a red ribbon. The fancy hat brings sunny days, flying kites and ice cream cones. “With her fancy hat, she laughed harder, smiled brighter, and felt like the happiest girl in the world.” The girl temporarily loses her favorite new item of clothing but discovers quickly that she can be just as happy without the hat. With its well-executed, painterly illustrations, the app is more sophisticated than it first appears. The visuals favor subtle shifts of perspective over full-blown animation. Movement is activated by tilting the iPad in different directions to make the scenes breathe in unexpected ways. There are no extra features, not even page numbers, and the lack of sound effects, music or narration creates a silence that only seems noticeable when compared to the tweedles and beeps of competing iPad storybooks. A fierce seaside storm and a bus splashing through a puddle seem made for sound cues, but in this case, the decision to embrace silence works fine. The text isn’t revelatory, but its message of building happiness from within comes across clearly.
This gloomy girl’s transformation to happy camper is worth embracing, silent or not. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)