The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 19th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for iPad is Random House Digital’s app based on the classic children’s book of the same name.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a favorite story of mine, and I do enjoy how this app includes a very nice picture book section with excellent narration as well as wonderfully rich and stylized illustrations containing mild yet effective interactions and moody, atmospheric music. These slightly animated illustrations are also found within the unabridged version of this book - a nice touch.

I enjoy the storybook section, as although adapted from the longer version, this storybook includes many of the details and nuances found in the original book, making this section not overly simplistic - a very nice primer for children new to these Oz titles.

The narration is top-notch, and I enjoy following along with the highlighted text. I do find the elements of narration, illustrations and music to be perfectly realized, but it is to my great disappointment that not all of the 24 chapters of this story are illustrated, including the scene when Dorothy first encounters the poppies - a favorite moment of mine from childhood, as well as a missed opportunity to show these flowers in their grand colors with their sedating abilities.

Likewise, within the adapted version, I found the telling of the second half of the journey - after Dorothy misses her ride home on the hot air balloon and the gang needs to go in search of the Good Witch of the South - to be rushed in its re-telling. It also does not include chapter 20, The Dainty China Country - my true favorite chapter of the story as a child, where Dorothy and the others venture into a world of fragile characters made of china - another missed opportunity to have users break these china characters with a tap. I also would have wished this adapted version to go into better details about the Hammer-Head characters also met among these chapters - briefly mentioned without being named.

Although I did find the lack of an illustration for every chapter in this book to be a disappointment, as the unabridged section is also without these same illustrations, I am quite enamored with the pictures that are included - wonderful artwork that adds a sophistication to this story which I enjoy, maintaining the darker tone from the original story for a slightly older child - something that is sometimes sanitized in other re-tellings. Also nice is the inclusion of the forward written by author L. Frank Baum as well as a map to show the four different lands of Oz, a nice touch.

Although I would certainly prefer for each of these chapters to be represented by illustrations, this app is still quite enjoyable, especially to listen to the shorter storybook being read, and for this reason, even with the nagging omissions included, this is an app that I can recommend, especially to those who are not Oz purists who would certainly be disappointed by the lack of illustrations per each chapter and the overly abridged second half of this epic tale.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

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