This Too Shall Pass Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 1st, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

This Too Shall Pass is a very unique and special storybook application with versions available for both iPad as well as iPhone. This tale, based on a traditional proverb of the same name and also part of the “Classic World Tales” series by the developers at Moving Tales, is excellent. Languages include Spanish, French, as well as English, and are great for bilingual families as it is intriguing how one can select a language mid-story if one chooses, and one can make his own recording as well.

Said to be inspired by Persian, Buddhist, and Jewish sources, this is a story of a kind, yet disillusioned king who searches for words of wisdom that can relieve him of his melancholy, as he worries that his state of mind may dampen the mood of his kingdom.

Here, the king gathers together the best minds available, but it is advice from a humble shoeshine man that he finds to be life-changing. I really like how this version of the story adds the introspective character of the shoeshine man, and it is he who delivers this simple and affirming notion that all things material and external change, instead of the hired scholars and wise men, as I appreciate how this proverb has been fleshed out into a story rich with character development not found in original sources, yet maintaining the tone of the traditional tale nicely.

In some versions of this ancient proverb, the king asks his advisers to design a ring that will make him happy when sad or sad when happy. I appreciate that here, instead of a ring, a bell is inscribed, paving the way for a lovely, moving ending in which the king creates a large bell detailed with this message to share with his kingdom.

In many ways, I am not a fan of 3D images in many applications, preferring the look of hand-drawn illustrations . I am, however, deeply impressed with the look and quality of the artwork. My desire for the beauty found in hand-crafted art is quenched as the images themselves do not look overly computer-generated, yet the 3D effects are simply to be marveled, yet does not call attention to themselves.

This story opens up with what one would call a continuous shot if dealing in film terms, escorting the viewer down a long winding path alongside many buildings as one approaches the king’s castle. The use of perspective and shadows is quite impressive to say the leas,t as are all the visuals of this ebook. The visual choices used to tell this story are stunning - difficult to describe with words, especially in the interest of not spoiling any of the magic.

These animations are wonderfully stylized, with a beautiful use of black, white, and many shades of gray, subtly highlighted as well with the use of blues or gold. I also love how the text of each page gently trickles down into place, a technique I have not seen before from other developers, and it is also interesting that the accelerometer can be used to have the text fall off the page if one moves the device left or right - also quieting the narration - a function that can also be turned off if one finds this distracting.

Although Autoplay is offered, I am also impressed with the fact that as the animations, sounds, and music used on each page are looped, so long after the narration is over, one can gaze at the wonderful images and listen to the music used to tell this story before swiping to the next page, something I found myself doing a lot of as I was enjoying this book.

There are not as many storybooks appropriate for kids older than the preschool set, and I think that this is an excellent choice for kids grade school and up. The vocabulary used here is extensive and could be difficult for many children to read on their own, but I don’t think many will have problems following this story if one listens to this tale with the narration, which is excellent, but can also be turned off as well if one wishes, as can the display of the text on the screen. It may be nice option as well for these words to be highlighted if the reader wishes, possibly helping reading comprehension of younger viewers.

The message that “This too shall pass” is certainly one that would benefit school-aged kids as the tribulations found at this age can seem overwhelming, although very temporary in adult eyes. This application reminds me of how my dad would wisely refer me to the words “DON’T PANIC” found on the cover of Douglas Adams “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as fellow writer, Arthur C. Clarke has been quoted as saying "DON'T PANIC is perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity." It also makes me think of the “It gets better” project, a term used to reach out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth who in the midst of lives difficult to live, have a hard time understanding that their situations are temporary and that it does get better. No matter the specific circumstances, the knowledge of how temporary things are in the greater scheme of things is a very important concept for kids of any age to be exposed to. My son, at 3.5 years, is a little young to fully grasp this quite yet, I but I am looking forward to sharing this application with him as he gets a little older.

I really enjoy This Too Shall Pass. The music used here is equally as wonderful as are the visual elements. This story never gets old for me, as there is a randomization to the alternating views and sound effects used, creating a unique experience every time - great for reading again and again.

I am very impressed with what Moving Tales has delivered in this application. I am eagerly awaiting new titles of theirs, as I am sure they will be equally impressive. Do check them out in Itunes; you won’t be disappointed.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

This Too Shall Pass screenshot 1 This Too Shall Pass screenshot 2 This Too Shall Pass screenshot 3 This Too Shall Pass screenshot 4 This Too Shall Pass screenshot 5
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