Lil’ Red - An Interactive Story is a highly stylized new take on the classic tale of the same name, here as an app for iPad.
I am always interested to see how a developer will adapt this classic story, and I was very impressed with this version.
I appreciate the decision to have this new interactive storybook, Lil’ Red, devoid of text words of any kind, allowing readers to tell the story themselves out loud or to simply explore this book by themselves.
The animation is superbly stylized with the use of black, white and shades of grey as well as bold, contrasting red, really popping alongside the other muted colors.
One will need to search around the page to find hotspots which propel the action through these pages, so it is important that readers have some familiarity with Little Red Riding Hood to know basically what they are looking for and what they may have missed - knowledge that most kids will already possess.
I really enjoy how the few lines of dialogue found here, such as Red’s mom asking her to take food to Grandmother, are expressed in a speech bubble complete with illustration instead of words, making this app language-neutral and therefore great for children of all backgrounds.
A charming musical score accompanies this app as Lil' Red explores the forest, eyes wide with a nod to anime. I admire the ability to add details like Red admiring flowers as well as including a bird or hedgehog, because these details are simply charming with lovely musical highlights and just enough animation to be very effective, as they could have been distracting in another app prone to loud noises or exaggerated movements.
In some ways, this app reminds me of Peter and the Wolf, as every character has their own musical theme that works well to represent each character, as Lil' Red’s sound is high while the woodsman has a much lower musical theme - an element that also works quite well indeed.
It is very nice that this app includes traditional elements often included in the darker, less family-friendly versions of this story, including Red being eaten by the Wolf, as she can be seen actually inside this beast, but in a way that is cartoony - not scary - as is the fight the woodsman gets into with the wolf, releasing Lil’ Red.
I do, however, have mixed feelings as some of this story is off screen, allowing children to fill in details for themselves, such as the traditional scene where Red, confronting the wolf, dresses as Grandma and asks about his big eyes and teeth - a moment that may not have played well without the back and forth of dialogue, but I simply miss this aspect of this story as part of a re-telling of Red Riding Hood.
Do be aware that a lot of activity is included in each page, and readers will not want to miss even some subtle nuances. Users will notice that although an arrow is included to turn the page, this arrow will sway lightly to let readers know that they have discovered all that there is to find on each page - a great detail that I am glad is included.
It is also nice that this app will save the page where one left off, but I do wish there were a home page button to allow one to re-start this app from the beginning with ease.
Even with these notes, this app is a very nice companion to other versions of Little Red Riding Hood that children have been exposed to, and I can see this app being useful within a school setting, getting children to work on their own storytelling abilities while using this application as a prompt in their re-telling of this classic tale.
The minimal color palette and musical scores make this app truly stand out in a sea of other storybooks within iTunes. I hope the ending of this app, which includes the wolf coming across the Three Little Pigs, is a hint of a new app to come in the future. I would love to see more stories with this same sense of style.