Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
As readers may know, I do love a good storybook for iOS devices because I think the iPad and iPhone are perfect for reading - if not listening to - tales for children as well as adults. Because of this, I would like to let readers know about a storybook app that I have thoroughly enjoyed testing.
Naailde the Witch, also known as Naailde the Witch and the Elegant Guest, is a story with nuance and backstory about an unpleasant witch who meets, as the name may describe, an elegant house guest with an unknown motivation for not being quick to leave the premises (as well as not being easily scared by Naailde). Naailde the Witch and the Elegant Guest is special in every way, and quite unique. Don’t let the 180 pages of this children’s app be a concern as each page may have a few words or a sentence seen in bold print at the top of the page, making it very easy to read - which I am quite fond of.
Although one can read this book to oneself, wonderful narration is included allowing readers to listen to this story being told to a great effect - including Autoplay that allows them to enjoy without turning pages, which allows the words to really flow within this story. The illustrations are presumably hand-drawn sketches that include the raw lines typically removed as an image is developed into more of a finished state, as well as drawings of other characters and details done in such a way that is perfectly imperfect, creating a child-like quality that could only be produced by a most talented adult. Almost entirely illustrated with an effect akin to black ink on a white page, as well as a modest use of color that can be seen in a few places for effect until the end, the app carries a surprisingly ominous tone that I would not expect. Also of great note is how these sketches are constantly on the move unfolding into new, layered details to bring visual realization to the tale being told. Although at times a little on the nose, I have no complaints with the deep stylings of this app as I really enjoy watching these moving images tell the story together with the spoken text.
Few modern tales that I have come across have spent as much time going into the details and true storytelling that Naailde the Witch and the Elegant Guest has, and it would be easy for one to believe that this is in fact based on a traditional tale as my mind wanders to Grimm's Fairy Tales as well as elements from stories by Roald Dahl. The quality of the narration is equally superb. A woman’s voice thoughtfully tells this story with an understanding of Naailde, making her a nearly sympathetic anti hero - a point of view that could have been lost if narrated by someone with less insight. I also really appreciate the quality of the font used among these pages, as it is large and, although having its own elegant hand written qualities, I find it very easy to read without any struggles - a real issue I have with some typefaces.
While all the storytelling aspects are beyond pitch-perfect, there are a few notes involving the functionality of this app. Classical music - a perfect choice that captures the dark mood of this tale - is an option to be heard either when reading to oneself or as background music while listening to the narration, yet here I find the sound level a little low for my taste. Because of this, I would love to have the ability to control the volume of these elements separately. I am happy to see that this book does hold the page that one may be reading, in case one steps away while the app is running in the background. If another family member closes it, however, the page is lost. I would love to have a better way of saving one’s space from one day to the next, as well as a menu of pages to be able to find areas of this story that may be favorites in order to make re-reading moments easier. I have also noted that some of the lines seen within these sketches look a little fuzzy and less than high definition on my iPad 3 - a minor issue most children will not notice and adults will probably forgive.
I am just so impressed with the book, moving illustrations, narration, and song selection, and it makes me quite happy that credits are included at the end of this app as adults will want to know who delivered such fine work.
Although Naailde the Witch and the Elegant Guest would be a great choice for children in the mood for a creepy story because of Halloween, this application is in no way the equivalent to the countdown to Christmas app that one deletes the day after. Naailde the Witch and the Elegant Guest will stand the test of time for anyone who enjoys storytelling at its finest. I do hope all those involved will continue to develop more tales for iPad and iPhone - a selfish request as I would love to hear and see more of their work.