This is the second folktale review for me after my previous review last Wednesday. I do believe the internet and the App Store have made it easier for folktales from different parts of the world to be enjoyed by this generation.
As with most stories that may have poor documentation, folktales have their own weaknesses. They tend to have varied interpretations. When these folktales get implemented as iPad apps, the fragmentation is added with the various levels of implementation details, such as storytelling angles, drawing techniques, musical scores, voice overs, and various platform-specific interactivity details. Choosing the one to pick as your junior's first introduction to a folktale might be challenging.
Puss in Boots - The Great Adventure
Puss in Boots - The Great Adventure is an iPad app that tries to tell the story of the famous French fairy tale with a different (more cheerful) angle. Starting with a cheerful cat and a fun (and a little bit quirky) young boy as the main characters, I believe this is a good angle to introduce to young readers.
The storyline starts with a wealthy Ogre who lives in a gloomy tower. The Ogre had a special ability that allows him to transform into all animals. He also had a special friend, a red-furred little kitten, who loves to play with the Ogre's one-of-a-kind pendant.
One night the little kitten was unaware that he was getting himself entangled up in strings of balloons. As the strong wind blew inside the tower, it flew the balloons and the kitten across the forest into the nearby village. That night the little kitten was flown in his sleep and would find himself waking up next to a young boy in a miller's house the next morning.
Years passed by and the little kitten had grown up happily in the Miller's house. Having the Miller's son as his best friend, they loved to sing along the music played from the young boy's banjo. Because the Miller was unable to appreciate the musical taste this singing duo had, he sent them away to search for fame in the King's City instead.
When they learned of an opportunity to perform in the King's court, they immediately went in as Marquise of Carabas and Puss in Boots singing duo. Unfortunately, the King didn't like their performance. They were sent to jail to wait for an execution the next morning, unless they were able to pay the amount of gold the king required.
It was in this prison that the duo overheard a Runny-nosed Bard whispered that the only place where they could get that amount of gold was in the gloomy tower. Risking everything for his best friend's safety, the cat escaped prison and forced his way into the tower. One step away from the gold treasures, the heroic cat needed to face the mighty Ogre who guarded his treasures.
Unafraid of the danger, the cat challenged the Ogre to prove his claim that he could transform into any animal. Mischeviously, the cat tricked the Ogre to turn into a tiny mouse. Just when the cat tried to swallow the Ogre, he noticed the same pendant that he saw when he was still a little kitten. He immediately realized that it was his other best friend, the Ogre, that had took care of him since his young age.
The cat immediately embraced the Ogre and they went to save the young boy. After the Ogre handed out enough gold treasures to make the King happy, the King finally let all the imprisoned artists go.
What makes this implementation outstanding
This app has a beautiful illustration from Lucia Masciullo who uses watercolor and colored pencils to draw all 40 pages of this book. If you really want to know the thought process and drawing process that Lucia had to went through, I highly suggest you to watch this interview video and this awesome watercolor painting process of the 17th page of the book. My 3-year old son, Philip, was amazed to see how a page of the book he's holding was being drawn.
The developer manages to include a catchy musical score and a level of interactivity that are essential to any apps aimed at juniors. Your juniors can tap at selected items on screen to trigger sound effects, thought balloons and speech balloons, adding up to a delightful reading experience. Finally, you can also read the story (or have the voice over read them to you) in four other languages, i.e. Italian, French, Spanish, and German.
What I love about this app
I appreciate the amount of efforts that Lucia had to go through drawing 40 pages to tell the story. She definitely wants the best for this app that she would not settle for less. I can really feel the adventure, and the sense of its greatness.
I also believe that Lucia has successfully build each character uniquely through her amazing drawings. I personally love the way Lucia drew the Ogre character. She managed to never draw the face of the Ogre, despite many situations where it should be visible. She cleverly hid it to make the Ogre character likable and accepted for his heroic act.
Finally, as a geek, I really appreciate Lucia's attention to details. I love the sense of humor in the Princess character who always faints, the happy hen that turned unhappy after hearing the singing duo performed, and the way the executor sighed that there was no work for him once the Ogre came to release everyone. These details make it an excellent app.
I love Puss in Boots - The Great Adventure. This implementation of the famous fairy tale really lives up to its name, telling the story of a great adventure that Marquise of Carabas and Puss in Boots have to go through. I really love every aspects of this app, starting from the beautiful illustration and the catchy musical score, to the excellent implementation details. I can't wait to read the next fairytale coming from Lucia and the Blue Quoll team.