The iPad is supposed to assist the world in reinventing books, helping to move us from our paper pages to a future of touch screen enabled pixels. But while Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and others battle on that front, some developers are taking an entirely different approach.
The iPad application “The Little Mermaid and Other Stories by H. C. Andersen” is a vigorous reinterpretation of classic children’s stories that melds wonderful scripting, interactive layouts, dramatic physics-enabled special effects, and the iPad’s brilliant screen to amazing effect. The experience is mesmerizing for even the most jaded adult.
The application contains three stories (more are supposed to be on the way), including The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Happy Family. Each page is a full graphical presentation, often complete with a mini-game. If there are to be dramatic fireworks over the ship to celebrate the end of a certain story involving a woman who is half-fish, then you initiate their launch with the tap of your fingers. The coins that the swindlers request in the a story about an expensive invisible suit bounce around the screen giddily.
This is nothing short of a revolution in children’s books. The adult can read while the child plays with the screen’s attractions, making reading not only a fun, but also an interactive experience. The only way to fully explain that application is to show you are few screenshots, let’s get to that.
On this page the lanterns swing as the iPad moves back and forth, and can be lit or extinguished with a single touch.
My personal favorite page, with fireworks that track to your touch and a ship that slides on the water depending on which way you tilt your iPad.
At the risk of losing our look at the application in its technological wizardry, the stories themselves are classics. Each has a place in modern Western society and is uniquely told. The application’s only downside is perhaps its high price of $8.99. However, if you have a child, you will pay more than that for a single book at your local bookstore. Here you get three that sparkle.
Of the dozens of iPad applications that I have played with and tested, none have grabbed me so quickly and completely as this one. Good on its developer, and good on its impact for both children learning to read and adults looking for a smile.