"Once there was a boy who loved to collect," begins this unique digital book. Asaf is an enigma to his family, amassing so many objects that it borders on hoarding. When the family prepares to move to a new house, his parents get rid of everything Asaf has collected, everything he loves. This begins a new chapter for the young man, one of collecting dreams, ideas and knowledge.
When the family arrives in their new home, Asaf's mother & father tell him, "This is your new bedroom. Keep it tidy." This act of parental misunderstanding and betrayal is experienced by Asaf in scenes that perfectly convey the darkness and rebellion of adolescence ... with handwritten words appearing all over the page, wherever the reader taps in Asaf's new, empty room. The previous space was occupied by things, but the new space is just as crowded, this time with words like, "Deprivation, Desolation, Destitution, Devastation."
As the book continues, Asaf's darkness is transformed into something steelier and more complex, although his new independence of thought is just as intense as his original habit of collecting things. Asaf is a richly developed and emotionally engaging character, something unusal for interactive fiction. The animations, sound effects and reader-driven elements in this story are also varied and satisfying, presented in a polished way with a nice array of settings for navigation and audio adjustment.
Overall this is a phenomenal digital app that takes storytelling to another level. It is unusual for its unique appeal, as well, focusing on a much older audience than the traditional picture book. I would suggest if for ages 8 and up, although it will appeal most to tweens, teens and even adults.
There is a darkness to this story, but it is so well conveyed through nicely animated and interactive pages, that a whole new kind of narrative is born for a more sophisticated audience. If a pop-up book category emerges in digital to deliver 'angst' this one would dominate the genre. The Artifacts delivers a gift to readers they didn't know they were craving and does so seamlessly. My highest recommendation.
Additional teacher lesson plan ideas are available for free on the developer's website: Slap Happy Larry.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
10 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 8 - 16 +
A boy named Asaf, appearing to be be in his early teens, loves to collect things, he rescues other people's trash and fills his tiny room with so much stuff that the floor is barely visible. His parents are not very fond of this habit of young Asaf, so one day when the family is in the process of moving, they get rid of everything but the boy's bare essentials, his bed, clothes, etc.
Asaf is devestated, feeling a wide mix of complex emotions like betrayal, desolation and emptiness. In his isolation and depression, he invents a complex world of imagination, collecting thoughts instead of things. He reads and absorbs knowledge, which he hoards as well. He even imagines that he can step on shadows and collect them.
After many trips to the library and absorbing the knowledge of the world around him, Asaf leaves home. He carries with him only two small suitcases but one "very large mind".
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