Michael Garland's Icarus Swinebuckle is a richly illustrated story with fun interactivity and several nicely animated scenes. It's the story of a pig who is a cobbler. He is obsessed with flying and when his flying contraption turns out to work, everyone in town is impressed. But like his name-sake, this Icarus also flies too close to the sun, causing his wings to come apart. This title is based on a print book, published in 2000.
There are some great animated scenes in this app, in the form of short videos interspersed with interactive pages. These videos are not present in 'read myself' mode, which makes it the preferred setting for more traditional bedtime reading. The interactivity added with this re-release is really nice, though, with something to play with on every page. You can tilt the iPad to see shoes fall, tap characters to trigger light animation and play with hanging items in Icarus' workshop.
The page turn can be a bit touchy - you can use either the arrows or page swiping, but sometimes pages turn while playing with the interactive elements. In 'read to me' mode the soundtrack stops abrubtly on each page (it would be nice to have the music continue at least until the page is turned) and pages are also a bit slow to load. My only serious complaint, though, is that when additional text appears on a page, it briefly overlaps the previous section of text, which is very hard on a reader's eyes.
The app also includes expressive narration that highlights as it is read. In the read myself mode, you can also tap on a word to hear it read aloud. The story is accompanied by nice classical music, along with crisp sound effects. There are even a couple simple extras, including three small puzzles and a memory matching game. Overall, this book is an example of well-crafted storytelling; I was delighted to see it return to the iTunes store after a brief absence.
Re-Review - This app was re-released (the old version, reviewed on December 27, 2010 is no longer available). The new version has additional interactivity & games but no longer has recordable narration.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
12 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 4 - 8 +
Icarus Swinebuckle is a pig that wants to fly despite his humble life fixing shoes. After hours, in the back of his cobbler shop, he works on his dream of taking flight. Everyone in town says he is crazy to think a pig can fly, but his son Robin believes in him. Eventually he decides to try out one of his flying contraptions, a set of wings made from wax & feathers on a wooden frame. He puts on his wings and jumps off the top of a tall building, flapping his wings ... as a crowd anxiously gathers below.
Icarus begins to rise into the air, much to his (and the villagers) surprise. Soon he can see the sun and decides he must try to fly higher to reach it. As he gets too close to the sun's heat, the wax begins to melt and he realizes too late to stop from falling all the way back to earth, plunging into the river with the villagers in awe. He is very embarrassed but soon realizes people are cheering for him simply for being able to fly at all. His family is happy to have him safely on the ground, although Icarus & Robin end the book imagining a flying contraption that can travel to the moon.