Inside a floating clamshell, a baby washes ashore at the feet of a young boy who picks her up lovingly. The story of The Gift unfolds from here, with the boy trying to wake the sleeping babe with the help of seven unusual creatures called "Oomorels". This digital book is lightly animated and full of unique interactivity that will engage readers in the story's progress.
Pages turn by tapping the right, bottom-hand corner, shown as a curled edge. Lovely and expressive narration with a British accent is available, although there is no highlighting to go along. The story's text covers up the illustrations in most scenes, but can be hidden with the tap of an arrow. This was an interruption in the reading process but not more than a minor inconvenience.
Instrumental music accompanies the story, enhancing the ethereal quality of this digital book. Illustrations are richly painted and portray the Oomorels with expressive detail. The interactive elements are intriguing, requiring the reader to tap certain areas before the page can be turned. Visual and sound effects are really fun in this app, although not always entirely relevant to the narrative. The need to tap all the Oomorels to progress through the story also felt a bit repetitive toward the end of the story.
Eventually, the young boy is left to his own ideas for how to wake the baby. When he decides to set her back into the ocean, he gets the inspiration to try one last thing, a kiss. This simple act of love is the only magic he needed, after all, and the baby opens her eyes at once.
Overall, this is a fascinating book with a unique approach to storytelling. The delays introduced with mandatory interactivity and a somewhat esoteric theme make this less suitable for readers under age 6, although children of any age will enjoy playing with the interactive elements. There is also a small 'extra' in the form of several stars that can be manipulated to make music, called "Swish 'n' Sounds".
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Jos Carylyle/Dan Mynard
Persian Cat Press Ltd
10 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 6 - 10 +
A baby washes up on shore at the feet of a small boy. He picks her up and brings her into the mountains to get the advice of the "Omorels" - a group of seven wise creatures. The first Oomorel thinks the child needs food, but this does not wake the baby. Next 'drink' is suggested ... this is also not the magical thing the baby needs to open her eyes.
In succession, the following things are suggested: shelter, warmth, music, magic, and dreams. When nothing works, the boy decides to try to return the child to the ocean. As he goes to set her into the waves he hears, "Look into your heart." The boy knows this means that the little one needs love, delivered in a simple kiss. Now the child opens her eyes. All the Oomorels celebrate with the boy.
From iTunes description: "Once upon a tide, in a land that is not so far away as you might imagine, a young boy finds a baby girl washed up safe and sound on a tranquil shore. He picks her up and takes her to see his friends, the wise and kindly Oomorels….
The Gift is a metaphorical tale that explores the things we provide for our children and the one thing they need most of all. It’s an original iStory, yet has a timeless, classic feel. It excites the senses with its magical sound and wonderful animation."