6.50 am. The West household.
‘I want watch Cin’ella on iPad!’
Putting to one side the fact that my 3-year-old daughter knows what an iPad is but can’t brush her teeth without assistance, this is praise indeed for the latest app release from One Hundred Robot, a New York based producer of children’s book apps.
A brilliant retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella has all the magic, sparkle and quirky features to make it an instant hit with a (very) young female audience. And for older kids – like me – there are certain features that set it apart from other book apps. The page turning, for example, is a smooth blending of scenes, much like a camera panning round, that adds an attractive filmic quality.
The interactive features are limited but I appreciate the producers want to provide ‘enough animation and interactivity to stimulate, but not distract from the richness of storytime’. Even so, I spent some time pressing bits of furniture, pumpkins, mice, to see if anything responded (nb: hints are a good thing). This would occasionally elicit an amusing quip – ‘Oooh my!’ gasps an old gent as Cinders enters the ball – or an Archers-style sound effect. The illustrations (which personally I found a little garish at times) combined with the lack of overt animation gives this app a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of a pop-up book.
Highlights for my daughter were the transformations: pumpkin to coach, mice to horses, etc, as she swept the wand across the image to produce her own fairytale magic. The app ‘extras’ were also inventive such as Character Cards (must the stepmother be called ‘Miranda’?) and the Matching Game and Sing Along features are sure to go down well with young audiences.
I have already recommended the app to my 7-year-old niece. There is an option to ‘read myself’ making it perfect for an emergent reader with a fondness for Princesses. Incidentally the app store threw up no less than 46 Cinderella products – a mix of games, foreign language apps and some books. And while the store itself is the equivalent of shopping in an East London branch of Pound Stretcher on a Saturday afternoon, this multiple choice may well distract potential customers – something for developers to bear in mind when recreating these well-loved, out of copyright tales.
With their first app launched last November and another 14 in development – half original stories, half classics – One Hundred Robots are definitely ones to watch.