Featuring polished 3-D illustrations and computer animation, The Magnificent Travelling Palace is a real treat for young armchair travellers. The story follows four children on a magical train ride in Udaipur, India. The story is informative about the sights and sounds of this Indian city, including a rich tapestry of cultural references and beautiful music. There are even interactive "?" that the reader can tap to get more information about traditional Indian foods pictured within the story.
The images for this storybook are beautifully rendered computer graphics that are crisp and colorful. There are even a few scenes that are lightly animated or use a panorama view to sweep over a scene in a breathtaking way. Interactivity in this book is also fun, and much of it is very educational, including a recipe for a traditional Indian semolina dessert. Several pages can be explored by tilting the device and every page has something unique and interesting to play with or learn about. All of the interactive elements are unique and nicely crafted, although not always relevant to the storyline.
The story itself, while very engaging, is also quite long for a picture book app (over 20 min). Pacing of the story is also slow at times, with complex sentence structure, making this book ideal for kids aged six and up. The text doesn't highlight, although the narration is great, with both American & British accent options for English. The text is rather small and (mostly) white letters on a black background, which is a bit hard on the eyes, although the text box can be hidden or expanded. These boxes of text do a fine job communicating the plot, but pale in comparison to the more polished visual storytelling.
Overall, this book delivers a satisfying and magical tale, while also giving readers a taste of a foreign culture. Easy to use and ample settings, including a detailed list of features on each page, round out this well made app. Fun extras include biographies of each of the characters, including the sugar-cane juice vendor who first tells the children about this fanciful train. Recommended.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The review's content is the same, but timing of publication has been prioritized.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Shoham Drori/Rakesh Nanda
25 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 6 - 10
Two children, in the city of Udaipur, India find out about a special train that looks like any other train on the outside ... but inside it is like a palace. They hear about it from the sugar-cane juice vendor, after selling pots from their father's ceramics studio on a hot day with their two best friends.
The four children then plan a trip to the train station to see this magical train. When they arrive, it is just as they imagined, beautiful and full of luxurious rooms fit for a king. They also get to eat delicious Indian delicacies. After this adventurous day, they head home and decide to keep their imaginative travels a secret just between the four of them.