A verdant garden of options and interactive features is smothered by bland art and woeful versification.
Stumbling and forcibly rhymed lines like “He almost ran away, he didn’t want them all to see / How different he was from them, not graceful and lovely,” tell the familiar tale. A “big, fat and gray” hatchling (actually pure yellow when first seen, later acquiring gray blotches) wanders through grassy settings and tidy interiors festooned with flowers, mushrooms, pet and woodland animals, household and other items—most of which will hop, paddle, sway, chuckle, buzz, clatter or otherwise respond to touches—to his eventual epiphany. Menus accessible from the title page and every subsequent screen allow the verses to be displayed or removed at will, an audio narration or a self-recorded one to run as an alternative to silent reading, quick skipping via a strip of thumbnail page images and a full auto option for passive or group viewing. A completist-pleasing “Tips” button identifies all of the touchable features in a scene with tiny blue hands. The illustrator, the writer and Hans Christian Andersen go uncredited, which is for the best.
Well designed and produced, but no swan. (iPad storybook app. 5-7)