App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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The Lost Song - Living Stories is a unique and charming interactive storybook developed by Ravensburger Digital that I have enjoyed a great deal. As a reviewer, I feel fortunate to have had access to many storybook apps developed for iPad or iPhone, and I am always happy to find a title that's a little different that children as well as their adults can enjoy. The Lost Song - Living Stories is such an application; which includes excellent optional narration, colorful illustrations, and a heavy use of musical elements that sound very good on our iPad.
This is the story of the land of Symphonia; a happy place where the inhabitants have music in their hearts, filling the town with dancing and singing. Then productivity becomes an issue, and music is believed to be getting in the way of the townspeople’s work. A judge decrees that music be banned from Symphonia - now the town known as Silentium, the Land of Silence. The workers become more focused but also very sad, and much of the color drains from the land as well, until a child named Henry discovers a violin while hunting for treasure. Running away and hiding in a desert, he discovers he can make make life grow even in this barren place, creating a lush forest with the sounds of his music. He then encounters a spirit who guides him through this musical land as well as helping him bring music back to Symphonia.
I really enjoy how the back story and resolution of Symphonia are structured - like watching a play unfold, with characters re-enacting this history on stage complete with a curtain and stage lights that one can tap on or off. This app is also rich with interactions which add wonderful sounds as well as subtle yet effective animated moments. Nothing is random or distracting, and I am very excited to announce that each page includes a pull-down tab which includes a hints button which will faintly circle hotspots to aid children. It also includes a puzzle per each page which functions quite nicely as well.
A few musical activities are also thoughtfully immersed within these pages, such as a landscape and a starry night where one taps or un-taps these stars to create music as these patterns are played back. The effect is magical, adding great richness to this thoughtful storybook. I also greatly enjoy a scene where musical animals can be selected or deselected to mix their distinct sounds together in any and all possible ways.
The look of this app is also quite pleasing, and I enjoy how when the pages of this application are turned the back of the page is seen momentarily in a way that may not register for all but creates a sense of really turning a page in a book. I also appreciate how each illustration at first looks old and sepia-toned but slowly transforms into the full color image.
There is a lot to enjoy within The Lost Song - Living Stories. The story has a nice length to it and includes early moments of drama that all but the most sensitive children will enjoy.
Also interesting are the morals included such as “”When you can’t find the words to explain something, you can say it through music” and ending with the line “Never forget who you once were, who you are, and who you want to be,” making this storybook a memorable if not moving experience.
Do be aware that this app includes English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish for this story, but only the English and German versions include narration. To listen to this story, tap on the text found on each page for it to be read out loud. I do hope other developers follow suit in terms of including hints to help children uncover hidden interactions - an aspect of this app I greatly appreciate.
This tale is one of a series of Living Stories by Ravensburger Digital. I also greatly enjoyed The Lost Heart - Living Stories - an app I recommend as well.