"A very long time ago, when fish could fly and pixies in pointy hats were hiding everywhere, roses had no color at all," begins this captivating fairy story. The Penelope Rose is like no other fairy story you've read, though. It feels like a classic tale while also breathing life into an otherwise flat screen.
The developers, Mobad Games, created a 3D effect that transports the reader into another world, simply by tilting the device. This mythical land is also the perfect setting for this magic - giving the impression that you have a window into another world in your hands. The roses and other elements in the forefront of every picture stay still, giving the scenes a sense of perspective while also protecting against the dizziness that other 3D apps can generate.
The app also has a delicate musical score and delightful sounds of flowing streams, tinkling pixie laughter and more. The narration enhances this sense of awe and is accompanied by text that slides into a corner after it's read, conveniently getting out of the way of the gorgeous graphics. Mobad Games really thought of everything and implemented it brilliantly in this book app. Every one of the 24 pages in this book is full of wonder, enchantment and breathtaking special effects.
The Penelope Rose is definitely a multi-media experience. It is beautifully animated and filled with so much to see and do that after reading it several times, there are still elements I haven't fully explored. Every page has shy 'pixies' with pointy hats that the reader can find, their hats giving away their hiding spots. There are also several fun games & puzzles built into the storyline. This interactivity goes way beyond tapping and triggering animations, although the app has plenty of that, too.
While this ebook has great replay value and stunning effects, it also doesn't skimp on the story. Penelope is an adorable fairy who has a lot of personality. She manages to save the invisible roses despite the other creatures desire to 'rip them out' of the forest. She does this (and the reader gets to help) by painting them with the colors of the rainbow, from the 'first light of dawn', 'snow-capped mountains' and the 'violet in the twilight sky'.
When Penelope is done painting all the roses in rich colors, the creatures of the forest are transformed as well. The story goes on to explain that from that day forward, "fairies were the artists of the winged world, in charge of tinting every blank blossom." And the real 'Penelope Rose'? It is named for the fairy who saved these delicate blooms.
Even the settings in this book have been given careful attention. There is an easy to navigate table of contents, text that highlights as it's read, adjustable sound and more. The only downside of a book this packed, besides it being too stimulating for bedtime, is the extra time needed to load each page.
The developers have made the transition between pages much easier, thoughtfully adding a fluttering Penelope surrounded by shimmering pixie dust to distract from this load time. They also provide nice 'hints' that are offered up between pages. Even though there is a 'page guide' with a list of hidden elements, these hints are very useful for the first several reads through the book.
There is simply no way to be disappointed with this app if you are looking for an animated book with "Wow!" factor, especially if you love fairy stories. Despite its clear appeal to girls in particular, my son was totally mesmerized by this book. And he wasn't the only one - after he went to bed one night I played with the book for nearly an hour without realizing how much time had elapsed. Even my husband, a programmer, was tinkering with it one night, impressed with its ambitious animation and well-done 3D perspective.
Basically, this book makes me want to have a scale that goes above 5-Stars. I give it my highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Lori Jones/Gian Marayag
15 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 4 - 10 +
Penelope is the tiniest fairy in a magical world with flying fish and roses that have no color - in fact they are invisible, and as a result, quite hazardous to the creatures of this mythical forest. Butterflies bruise their little noses on the sharp rose petals, described as like a 'crystal marble or an island made of ice'.
All the creatures in this mythical world are in an uproar over the 'rose' problem, including worried warthogs, babbling butterflies and a grumbling gremlin. They all gather to decide what to do, with the near consensus being to destroy the beautiful, but transparent menace. Angry butterflies flutter about while disgruntled possums say, "Rip out the roses by their roots!" Even the cheerful pixies are ready to do away with the troublesome roses. But Penelope, the littlest fairy, speaks up. "Why destroy something so lovely just because it can't be seen?" she asks.
Instead Penelope makes a paintbrush out of native grasses and fills it with the colors of the rainbow, eventually transforming both the roses and the hearts of the animals in the process. From that day on, fairies have been in charge of painting the blossoms of the world.