"Long ago, in a time when it was not unusual for animals to speak ..." begins Papa Gatto, a richly illustrated Italian folktale. It is a heart-warming "Cinderella" style story, originally published in print in 1995. It features an elegantly written re-telling by author/illustrator Ruth Sanderson, who's lavish oil paintings are matched only by her exquisite storytelling abilities. The reviews at Amazon.com for the print title bear this out with a 5 star average.
But this fairytale ends with the heroine turning down the marriage offer, or at least post-poning it. In a twist on traditional fairytale messages, the book ends on an empowering note for young listeners. Beatrice, the maligned step-daughter, explains that she can't marry a man she doesn't know well enough to love.
"For too long I have lived in a house without love; I would not exchange one joyless home for another." By not rushing into marriage, this soon-to-be princess encourages readers to first take the time to get to know and love a partner before expecting a 'happily ever after". It also conveys that being good, honest and hardworking will win out over laziness, greed and deception.
This title translates nicely to digital, with lovely narration. There is a tiny bit of interactivity, but it consists primarily of the sound of the kittens. It is a nice touch, but the only thing this app really needs for its next iPad update would be much higher resolution images. If the text and pictures could appear on the same or 'facing' pages, that would also help this tale come alive more as an app on the bigger screen. But even without any changes, this book is exceptional. It is among the most well-crafted fairytales I've read in a long time.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
20 - 25 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 5 - 10 +
Papa Gatto is a cat who is an advisor to the prince of his kingdom. This aristocrat's wife has 8 kittens before taking ill and dying. He has the town crier put out an ad for a helper, saying he would pay any amount for someone to come stay with his litter. Enter the evil stepmother ... a woman who has two daughters, Sophia (the biological daughter - beautiful but lazy & greedy) and Beatrice (the step-daughter - pure of heart and hardworking).
The mother sends Sophia to answer the call and Papa Gatto assumes that someone so beautiful must also be a good person. As soon as he leaves, Sophia takes his dead wife's diamond bracelet and then does nothing to care for the kittens or the house. When Papa Gatto returns he is very dismayed and takes the diamonds from her, casting her out.
Papa Gatto then has the town crier ask for a loving, hardworking person instead or emphasizing the the payment. Beatrice slips out of her home to right the wrong of her step-sister, providing exceptional care for the kittens and maintaining the home & gardens. When Papa Gatto returns he is delighted and Beatrice admits that her sister was the one to cause him such grief.
Papa Gatto is so impressed with Beatrice's honesty and character, that he tells the Prince, knowing he seeks a good wife. The prince, in his desire to meet such a girl and ask for her hand in marriage, is deceived by Sophia into believing she is the one that is pure of heart. She is quickly found out when he comes to visit her home with Papa Gatto & the kittens - since the litter swarms Beatrice instead.
Even though the Prince now offers to marry Beatrice, she wisely says no, explaining that she does not yet know the Prince and therefore can't love him. She continues to explain that she has lived in a home without love long enough and only desires to return to Papa Gatto's wonderful home to care for his kittens. The Prince is impressed by Beatrice even more and vows to win her heart.