A poignant, potent ode to books (the paper kind) that combines top-notch animation, just the right amount of interactivity and a tear-jerking story.
Based on a 15-minute animated short (which can be downloaded from iTunes via a link in the app's main menu), this pitch-perfect adaptation captures much of the nuance and emotion of the source material without trying too hard to capture every beat. Morris Lessmore, who appears to be modeled after silent film–era comics like Buster Keaton, is a writer whose obsession with the written word is evident by the precariously stacked books around him. After a storm flings him from his balcony and literally blows the words off the pages of all the town's tomes, Morris finds himself wandering until he spots a woman flying through the air, carried by bird-like books. An anthropomorphic version of "Humpty Dumpty" befriends Morris and leads him to a magical library, where he'll write his own story and care for the residents there. Though the app's text is all original (the short film features no dialogue or voice over, only music), it sparkles. In the library, "The tragedies needed to be cheered up and would visit with the comedies. The Encyclopedias, weary of facts would relax with the comic books and fictions. All in all, it was an agreeable jumble." Merely adapting the story well from the film might legitimately have been enough. But the interactive elements, including a playable piano, books that speak in distinct book quotes when touched and small games, don't feel at all tacked on; they enrich the experience without detracting from the main story or disrupting its flow.
The story of Morris Lessmore and his beloved books ends with an unexpected emotional punch, a satisfying, lovely finish for an altogether winning app. (iPad storybook app. 4-12)