Lush illustrations are let down by rote, bland storytelling in this oddly paced, tone-deaf version of the Brothers Grimm tale.
The story of the neglected, lost kids Hansel and Gretel starts promisingly. The main characters are drawn like Japanese-animation heroes and surrounded by evocative, detailed artwork emphasizing cracks in walls and rich vegetation dotted with tree stumps and wild animals. But the text (which can be read aloud with optional narration) doesn't pull its weight. When Hansel and Gretel arrive at the witch's insanely adorned home of pastries, lollipops and candy canes, the text merely calls it a "House of sweets" and tells readers limply, "They ran up to the house and started pulling sweets off of it." In no time the stooped witch is pushed into the oven, and the tale has shifted tone, ending darkly in just nine pages. The final image of the reunited family cheering as they gather around a bag of gold and jewels (never mind the mysteriously deceased stepmother and the incinerated witch), the look of deranged joy on the father's face may be too much for some parents to bear. Still, the art is remarkably good for such a mediocre telling, and the sound effects and animation are put to good use. Still, tapping the screen to push someone into a walk-in oven may not be what the iPad's creators envisioned when they designed the device.
Fans of the grimmest Grimm stories may find this app's artwork to be worth a peek, but the story itself doesn't provide much that is new or different. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)