Developer: FlyingWord Inc
Price: 4.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

It was at the dawn of a new century – the 20th – that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the first of 19 serialized children’s stories by L. Frank Baum, began to capture the imagination of first America and then the world.

Part audiobook, part digibook, Wizard of Oz 3D, The Experience brings the classic to life on iOS in a way that will make a reader’s eyes open wide.

This book-app has the complete classic text, Greg Hildebrandt’s rich illustrations and adds first rate voice acting, mixed with what are genuinely three dimensional, or at least, illusion-of-depth creating illustrations.

This is not a complex interactive book. It has no games, no tapping to reveal a hidden munchkins, just a few small things to move within some illustrations, but it needs no extra flash. This is the book that generations grew up with, illustrated in a very 21st century way.

The physics engine used to render the beautiful full color drawings and detailed sketches is amazing. Almost every virtual page reveals an artistic reimaging of the beloved cast and moving the iOS device allows a user see them from multiple angles, not unlike a paper pop-up book.

It can take a minute to get used to the “Pinch and Flick” feature, but once a reader gets the hang of it, it allows them to drag any drawing to the front, zoom in on it and really explore the details. Conversely, it allows the illustration to be flicked to the top of the page, mini-icon sized, so more text can be displayed.

This is not, strictly speaking, a kid’s book-app. Of course it will appeal to children as the story always has, but it’s a text-dense, feature-lite app. Its appeal lies in the wonderful narration of the audio book, and the breathtaking design.

Narration can be turned off, but one of the more subtle things that makes this app so engrossing are the sound effects and the ambient noises. They don’t hit a reader over the head, but instead enhance the mood like a good movie score.

There is no need for a new review of one of the most beloved and iconic stories in modern history, and an app that recounts the story isn’t new either. What FlyingWord adds to the mix is the illusion that the reader is engaged with a traditional, even old-fashioned book, almost unaware of the technology that helps the tale feel as fresh today as it did in 1900. It’s a wonderful way to meet or revisit the magical world of Oz.

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