An exceptional storybook in print has arrived in digital with just a little more enhancement than your typical book app ... meet Rufus, a sweet and hardly scary monster, created by author Adam Stower in print in 2004. In the paper version of this storybook, a well-crafted and beautifully illustrated title previously published only in Australia, the story of a little monster with two 'left' feet emerges. Basically, Rufus can't dance, but "as everybody knows, monsters just love to dance" and Rufus shows off his best efforts at the "Grand Ball". In the end, a girl (isn't it always a girl that saves our hero?) arrives on the scene to provide (spoiler alert!) her two 'right' feet for a dramatic end to the story.
It's not often that a seasoned app reviewer can be impressed or experience the 'Wow' factor in a new app, no matter how innovative it might seem to the content creators. Two Left Feet is one of those rare apps that can and will WOW new audiences, no matter how many outstanding apps they have previously evaluated. The reason, in a word, is "Augmented Reality". But what can we really do with this technology in the world of storytelling? How will it enhance (or detract) from the crucial elements necessary for a seamless reading experience?
Augmented Reality according to Wikipedia:
"Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world."
Young readers will find the novelty alone engaging when reading this title using the iPad's camera. If you start the story with the print book, amazing things will happen, like characters literally popping up from the page. There is also a fully functional and enjoyable eBook, available for users who don't own the print title.
There is no highlighting or other enhancements, giving the ebook an 'afterthought' quality compared to the AR version, but the narration and storyline are great on their own. A 'canvas' can also be printed to trigger the AR effects for anyone who downloads this app. Navigation settings would be the only recommendation I'd add for the developers - given that there is only a 'quit' option to go 'home' and no way to find a specific page.
I would highly recommend purchasing the print book for the full effect of this app, however this is not an easy or inexpensive task in the 21st century, requiring almost $70 to cover shipping from Australia. I would highly recommend that the author consider a POD option for those users who wish to obtain a print copy and aren't fortunate to live 'down under'. It is no small accomplishment for this app to have received several awards, including the "CTR's Editor's Choice Award, given to only the highest quality children’s products in the interactive media category. These are 'no fail' products, worthy of their cost, and able to keep children engaged for days at a time." CHILDREN'S TECHNOLOGY REVIEW
Overall, this is a lovely storybook app with loads of appeal for use in a variety of settings. The in-app storytelling is more than enough to justify the price of this app, but the AR effects are truly mind-blowing. It's hard to tell how these new technologies will fit into storytelling as it develops in the digital space, but readers should understand that while exceptional now, these effects are no more than a novelty in this app. Using the book with the camera is awkward at best, distracting from the storytelling at worst. But still ... it is innovative at this early stage by simply finding a way to use the technology.
Ultimately, the story and effects in Two Left Feet are really top notch, so if you own the book already ... you MUST download this app. And if you don't have the book? This is an app most-definitely worth checking out. Just printing the canvas may be enough to get you to spring for the book - it's just that unique!
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
RESIN PTY LTD
6 - 10 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 3 - 8 +
Bring Adam Stower’s magical tale “Two Left Feet” to life in this 3D animated adventure.
Uses augmented reality to create a true 3D experience. Just print the included canvas image to explore this wonderful story from every angle as the characters play out the story in front of you. You can also use this app with any version of the physical book. Also included is a standard 2D mode with the original book’s illustrations and narration.
You will love seeing your children explore the 3D mode in a new way over and over again. [Source: iTunes]