Noisy, chaotic and overstuffed, this sheriff’s hunt for small-time, mostly furry criminals shoots itself in the foot.
The Wild West town of Animaland is disrupted by several bands of “Animal Antics,” a euphemism for masked bandits causing trouble. A stumpy-looking giraffe with no neck tells Silver Star the Tiger, the town’s sheriff, that he must clean up the town. For the rest of the stroll through Animaland, readers try to pick out the “Antics” from the other animals, a constant parade of monkeys, bears, pigs, lobsters and even the odd octopus. Nothing makes much sense, and even as the narration tries to unspool the story, animal noises, scattered bits of dialogue and sound effects compete for attention. Animations never rest, and little question marks pop up and blink, offering even more visual clutter. Activating the option to introduce (poorly) written text to the story turns the page into a mess with little room to breathe. All the animals, even the ones causing the town’s trouble, have identical smiles, and the sheriff, troublingly, has eyeballs that roll around in circles. There’s a nice puzzle feature, multiple languages on offer and lots of social options to contact the developers of the app, but the story itself, if readers can get past the distractions, is lengthy and uninteresting.
Despite the beguiling title, give this one a miss. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)