Hagar is a harfowl, a creature that lives in a special Huffaloo tree. This non-linear story app begins with a description of this Seuss-like world, where harfowls try to find footing on trees that are scarce. But Hagar is having trouble finding a spot, and no one will share. Soon a storm takes all the trees down, leaving all but Hagar on the ground. He has choosen a tiny tree, merely a sprout, but he alone has a home.
Soon the other harfowls are eager to leave, unless now Hagar will share. The reader is asked to choose the story's direction at this point, either to "help the other harfowls" or "they got what they deserved" (which could be phrased better as 'don't help the other harfowls'). Choose one course for the story or the other and get a totally different ending. Children will also enjoy finding the 17 hidden animations, which are delightful and polished.
This story, surprisingly, has no sound at all, something unusual at this point in the app market for books. It also has no settings, no page turn, nothing really that sets it up like other book apps. All of the pages turn by swiping the page, but not to the right. Instead the entire story is one long, continuous page that scrolls down with images blending into each other (lacking distinct page edges). The page number of "20" that I used for this app is therefore just a guesstimate; the app is really just one long scroll.
Overall, this is a really unique and delightful story to share with a child. The surprise element of telling the story in a different direction (down) adds a unique appeal to this 'choose your own adventure' style tale. I'd love to see narration and other sound added to the app in the future, but as is, the storytelling is enjoyable and has not one, but two solid moral endings.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
6 - 10 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8
Hagar is a harfowl, a creature that lives in a huffaloo tree. Other harfowls had already claimed all the biggest huffaloo branches, leaving poor Hagar to take a pitifully small branch. But then a storm blows all the tress in the wood to the ground, excepting little Hagar's tiny tree.
The other harfowls screamed & cried saying, "How come YOU have a tree, it's not fair!" Somehow they have forgotten how unwilling they were to share just hours ago. At this point, Hagar has to make a choice, either "to help the other Harfowls" or "They got what they deserved" (in other words, to not help and cast the other Harfowls out of their homeland).
*story varies depending on choice - two possible 'second halves' of the story are as follows:
Choose: Help the other Harfowls
Hagar suggests they use the sprouts of tiny trees. The other harfowls are skeptical, refusing to try. Instead they leave. While contemplating the situation, Hagar notices that some of the sprouts are starting to grow quite quickly. Months later, the other harfowls return. In their time away, they have learned that everywhere there are times when all the trees blow down; no environment is free of bad storms.
Hagar tells the homesick friends that he, too, has learned something new. Every tree comes from a sprout! No harfowl need be homeless again, when they just need to take care of a sprout. They learned that, "even the biggest tree starts with a seed."
Choose: They got what they deserved
Hagar reminds his fellow harfowls about how they ignored him when he was trying to find a tree. Why should he help now? So the other harfowls leave dejected, while a flock of Gillagoff birds arrives to the Huffaloo wood. The birds take over Hagar's tree, leaving him not much room. He agrees to share and realizes his mistake in sending his peers away. Impressed by Hargar's generosity, the birds try to help, bringing seeds they had heard of .. ones that "everyday double size twice".
When they return, many moons later, their beaks are full of magical seeds, which they spread across the former wood. Soon trees are sprouting everywhere, growing quite a forest. Hiding nearby, the other harfowls slowly return. All have learned now that they should share, to leave 'no one in need, which no one should be in a world without greed!"