Dandelion is an interactive universal app with a wonderful sense of style, developed as an app with a message about bullying.
There is a lot that I enjoy about this app, recently chosen as an application of special interest in the books category by iTunes.
The most striking element of this app is the sense of style, shown not quite in black and white, as more of a sepia-tone look is included, adding the slightly warmer shades of subtle desaturated browns - an interesting choice - which allows areas of the screen to pop softly, adding a vintage, almost timeless look to this app that is also quite modern-looking as seen on the screen of one’s device.
Likewise, the illustrations and simple, animated moments are gorgeous to look at as are the intriguing characters, especially that of the main character Benjamin, drawn without a face and who seems to glow from the backlit device. These images are beautiful and will stay with readers for a long time, especially the ability to blow fluff off a dandelion - lovely to explore, to be sure.
Very good narration is also included if one wishes, and I enjoy how this app and the page turns are styled to look like one is looking through a view finder, including a 3D effect that one can see when moving one’s device, as well as an artful use of mild distressing which adds a bit of texture as well.
This is the story about how Benjamin is being bullied by boys from The School for The Misguided - what to me is presumably a reformatory of sorts, “A place for Ne’er Do Wells and Bullies.” However, it is unclear to me if this is the school that he attends or has to pass by on the way to his own school.
As only one school is noted in this story, I will assume that Benjamin attends The School for The Misguided, and this is an element that I have a hard time getting past. How could this child be thrown into such an institution where he will obviously be eaten alive, as he is less than half the size of the other students and a sensitive soul who would not fare well in this environment?
It is worth noting that Benjamin is not just being teased, he is being physically harmed, needing to tend to wounds. Because of all this, while blowing on dandelions, he begins to make wishes for the school to disappear, which never happens, but he learns from these dandelions how to let go of his fears and and gain confidence.
I find many of the elements of this app quite moving, such as the included music and imagery.
I do find the actual story, written in rhyme, to be underwhelming. yet if one wants to take away from this tale a sense of confidence and a lack of being afraid, this I welcome them to do so.
For me, it may have worked better if the main character were dealing with a different sort of bully, more subtle in the approach, such as an outsider girl dealing with “mean girls,” who could possibly rise above the mental daggers thrown her way, but if one is being physically harmed by dangerous teens with one foot in jail, confidence will go only so far.
I have no doubt that the chance to blow the dandelion fluff as well as the mythology of Benjamin making his wishes will be moving to anyone reading or listening to this story, but with the setup included here, more than inner confidence is needed to deal with the situation as it has been written, leading me to struggle to understand the message of this application.