The Shoemaker and the Elves is a very interactive book app with a stripped down version of the Grimm's folktale. The production values on all of the interactive elements are high, making it very intuitive & fun. However, the story, told in rhyme, sometimes falls flat, missing some of the warmth of the original tale. The interactions are plentiful though, making this an app that kids will love to play with over and over.
In this version, the shoemaker & his wife are poor but happy ... the story doesn't make clear how they are in need beyond this, but the shoemaker goes to bed with one pair of shoes unfinished. When he wakes up the pair of shoes is 'fixed' although the story really shows that a piece of leather has been made into perfect shoes. Then the shoemaker sells the new shoes for 'a lot of cash' and dreams of expanding his business saying, "I will be rich!"
But the shoemaker gets sleepy again that night and doesn't finish his work again, yet ALL the shoes in his shop are 'fixed' when he wakes up. These wording problems make it difficult to tell if he really does shoe-repair or shoe-making, since he only bought enough material the day before for two shoes according to the text. It also feels like the shoemaker just wants to get rich, not that the elves (who turn out to be behind the 'miracle') are doing something desperately needed.
There are also strange 'turns of phrase' like the townspeople saying, "You know the shoemaker? His shoes are made for walking!" The final scene is also visually odd, where small red hearts appear on the page but look almost more like blood on the screen. I'd suggest removing this altogether in the next update.
The interactive elements in this book app are so well-executed and fun, though, that it is easy to forget the story's deficits much of the time. Almost everything in this book app reacts to a light tap. Items on tables bounce, shoes on a display shelf play different musical notes when tapped, people sigh & exclaim, doors open, flickering candles go out when touched ... the list is endless for things to entertain on over a dozen pages! My little boy's favorite was the scene where you can tap on all the little clothes the wife makes to dress the two elves.
Overall, this book app is solidly made, especially for one so interactive & animated. Page turn with arrows is relatively quick and text appears in a box that can be tapped to play again or to be hidden entirely. There is also an extra, a near copy of the 'farmer's market' (page 5) with the addition of a voice-over saying the names of all the items being displayed, like fruits and vegetables and colors (of shoes).
Unquestionably fun, this is one app that takes interactivity to a new level. While the story may lack a certain charm, the child-tester of this app gives it a thumbs up. It is a great app for a reward or to keep a child busy, although off-limits for bedtime reading. Nice on both large & small screen.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Yael Nussbaum/Iris Gat
8 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8
In this version the shoemaker and his wife are poor and the shoemaker goes to bed with just one more pair of shoes to finish. In the morning the shoes are made and so fine they sell for a 'lot of cash'. Now he can but more 'lace and leather'. The shoemaker is excited about being able to make more shoes and says, "I will be rich!" But after getting home the shoemaker is too tired to continue and vows to get up early to finish his work.
When the shoemaker awakes, he finds that someone has 'fixed' ALL of the shoes in his shop. Now everyone in town is saying, "You know the shoemaker? His shoes are made for walking?" This continues until the wife suggests they stay up and see who's doing the work. They find elves making the shoes so the wife decides to make small clothes for them. The elves discover the clothes and are very happy. Ends with moral, "It's just as fun to give something as it is to receive."
This ebook is based on the Grimm's Brother's tale. From Wikipedia we find out that, "The Elves and the Cobbler or The Shoemaker and the Elves is an often copied and re-made story about a poor shoemaker who receives much-needed help from elves. The original story is the first of three fairy tales, contained as entry 39 in the German Grimm's Fairy Tales under the common title "Die Wichtelmänner".