A Saltfish Story was a surprise favorite in our house this past week. My son loves salt, so the topic was one he was immediately interested in hearing about. The story is a well laid out folktale of unknown origin (and I searched to figure out what culture this little jewel came from, but even the developer's site says "coming soon" so if anyone recognizes it - let me know!). Basically it's a tale about why the sea is salty and about how Salmon came to be forced out to sea for their whole lives until they return to die.
The whole story is very fun, with salt snowing onto three rather odd little figures (a tiger, bunny and an animal I cannot identify, but it's got hooves and is dressed in a cute little outfit). All the pictures are somewhat interactive, but not in obvious ways, so initially my son & I were tap-tap-tapping all over the place to see what might happen. Hint: The fish on the 2nd page can be flicked out of the sea with a lovely little popping sound.
When the sky god needs to pick the strongest fish, the page has three fish that can be tapped to compete to see who can jump over the high rock (only one will make it). The millstone can also be tapped on many pages to begin or stop it from turning and many sea creatures respond to taps as well. Most of the other interactions cause various ocean sound effects, but they're of a nice audio quality and fit well with the story.
A Saltfish Story HD is the iPad version of this story, but an iPhone version is also available, as well as an "AP" version with Japanese, Korean & Chinese instead of the "EU" languages in this version (French, Spanish, Dutch). Lite versions are available as well. The EU version is currently listed as "free until Jan 15" so check it out!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
5 - 8 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 10
English • French • Spanish •Dutch •
Once long ago, according to this folktale, the only way to get salt was to catch it when it fell from the sky. But the sky god did not have a way to get salt to the fish in the ocean, so after they begged for salt, he agreed to let the strongest fish take a salt-mill across the sea. He warned the newly named "Saltfish" not to touch the millstone. The saltfish swam a great distance before he became tempted to touch the mill. Several fish gathered around him, and wanting to show off, he began to turn the salt-mill, causing salt to spill into the ocean. Soon the mill was going faster and faster, until the handle breaks off. This explains why the sea is salty to this day (the mill is still grinding away somewhere) and also why the saltfish (now known as a salmon) is both ugly and forced out to sea for his whole life until he is allowed home to die by the sky god. As a Seattle-based review site, I'm not sure how I feel about the poor salmon getting all the bad press in this story, but then again, they are sorta ugly.