The Cloud Factory, from Dalmatian Studios, is an exceptional fine-art book app for children (and adults) with a whimsical storyline about a grandfather and his granddaughter. A smokestack pumps out black and white line-drawn clouds with delicate classical music in the background as the app is opened. Text can be hidden or shown (no highlighting) and readers are intricately involved in this interactive storyapp from the first page. Young readers will get to tilt the iPad to pour in milk, rip open a flour sack and dump cotton into a mixture that is designed to make "clouds".
The sketches appear, colorless but full of feeling, as a little girl, Luna, rides with her own small suitcase in hand. Her grandfather picks her up from the train station, telling her that he must get back to work at the 'cloud factory'. How do you make 'clouds' she asks him, and he says, "We must first gather the ingredients ..." Thus begins an enchanting and beautifully paced story told as much in pictures as words. The story-craft is top-notch, featuring a seamless narrative that carries the listener/reader away.
According to the developer's website, the author and illustrator, Steven Andrew, is an independent developer who graduated from the New York Institute of Technology. "His love for book making and publishing landed him a job in 2006 at Random House, Manhattan. At Random House, Steven developed skills in illustration retouching, which helped him win the National Association of Photoshop Professionals award in photo-retouching. The Cloud Factory is based on five drawings that were presented in Steven's capstone project at the Fashion Institute of Technology for his Masters of Arts degree in illustration."
Mr. Andrew's delightful animation and interactivity fill every page, including cows that moo with funny faces, Luna 'blowing' flour and lots and lots of shaking. Stiring the cloud batter is fun and well-integrated into the narrative. Page turning is by arrows at the top of each page. Nice hints are available on each page under a "?" icon. There is also a small icon of an old-fashioned 'film' canister that turns in the bottom right hand corner, but it doesn't have any function when tapped.
The biggest issue for this app is a complete lack of navigation, which I hoped would appear, like a thumbnail pageguide perhaps, when the film-icon was touched. The app also has something buggy in the introduction that silences all sound for the first segment of the story if you page back and forth. We found that restarting the app helped reset the audio, but this is worthy of additional testing for the next update.
This app also has no easy option for text without narration (for silent reading - especially nice for educational settings). There is also no parental gate on links from the cover for social media sites (Facebook/Twitter) as well as an appstore link that pops up for rating the app. This is a sophisticated title that I would recommend for ages 6 and up, so not one that very young children would play by themselves, however, it would be ideal to have all links tucked under a secondary menu with a parental gate.
Overall, this is a unique and welcome addition to the book app space, featuring original storytelling and avant-garde artwork in a beautiful digital package. Children will enjoy this story, without question, but it is also a wonderful tale to share with an adult, especially a grandparent. The tongue-in-cheek recipe for clouds, alongside sweet dialogue between the grandfather and grand-daughter make for a beautiful storytelling experience with amazing music and art. Enhancements for interactivity and animation are nicely integrated for a seamless experience.
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.
Note to readers: This review was expedited by the developer for a fee. The content of the rating/review 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.
Dalmatian Studios, INC
10 - 12 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 6 - 10 +
English • French • Spanish •German •Italian •Japanese •Dutch •
The Cloud Factory is a lovable story about a young girl who takes a trip on the train to visit her grandfather, who works at a “Cloud Factory”, and takes her on a tour, teaching her how clouds are made. This interactive picture book allows children to be involved in what’s happening by performing simple actions to move the story forward.
Follow along with Luna, and her Grandpa as he walks her through a tour of the cloud factory, and teaches her step-by-step how to make a cloud! Help Luna gather ingredients for the clouds by swiping, tapping and turning your iPad to make her perform actions that move the story forward.
As much of a story as it is a game, The Cloud Factory will keep your child will keep your child entertained while learning at the same time! [Source: iTunes]