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illustrated by Yoko Tanaka & developed by Mouse King Media

Age Range: 3 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 2011
Publisher: Mouse King Media

A stunning iPad adaptation showcases the story behind the popular ballet.

Over the last century, scores of books have attempted to capture The Nutcracker’s magic, but any one of them would be hard pressed to outshine this version. Without question the app’s most breathtaking component is the lavish artwork hand-painted by fine-art painter/illustrator Tanaka. Her exquisite use of color and light coupled with her distinctive interpretations of the characters provides a luxuriant feast for the eyes. Text is effectively scant, and there is no narration. Each screen is accompanied (occasionally at inconsistent audio levels) by Tchaikovsky’s beloved compositions, as performed by the developer’s “virtual” orchestra. In storybook mode, the features run their course at their own pace (which is frequently painstakingly slow), and readers have no choice but to wait it out. In movie mode, the pages turn automatically; both options offer a pause button. Interactive features are minimal and involve eliciting various brief sound effects, but there’s plenty of brilliant animation—though at times movement resembles languid animatronics in a mall display. On the iPad 2, the app can be streamed to HDTV for a “concert hall” experience.

It would be nice to have more control over the pace of the story, but the overall presentation is so spectacular it’s worth lingering over. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)