You know that wonderful feeling of being in a bookstore and discovering a new picture book so charming and so beautifully done you know you can’t leave the store without it? As I’ve been reviewing eBook after eBook, I’ve been wondering if an app can give a similar feeling. Answer: yes. I believe Nosy Crow‘s The Three Little Pigs, A 3-D Fairy Tale is such an app.
It has much in common with some of the other stand-out eBooks I’ve previously talked about, but it goes much further. Obviously, The Three Little Pigs is using a well-known story, but it’s not a phoned-in retelling; there is some great writing here. In this version, the three little pigs are kids and their parents casually kick them out of the house to go make their way in the world. It’s quite funny, and it’s punctuated with dialog. Tapping on the characters will have them talk both to you and to each other, offering fun little details.
The narration and character voices are wonderful. It’s probably very American of me to say that it sounds very Charlie and Lola because it’s filled with British kids. In fact, the main narrator is Freya Wilson who played Princess Elizabeth in The King’s Speech. Some acting chops on that kid.
The illustrations are beautiful, with a painterly quality that would look equally good on a book page. Despite what the “3-D Fairy Tale” would suggest, the illustrations and animations are 2-D, but layered in different planes to create a three-dimensional world. It was Olive who showed me one of the coolest features. As you tilt the iPad, your point of view of the scene changes. Olive told me that if you tilt it a particular way, it looks “more real”. Interestingly, what looks real to her is the vantage point of a very short person. A kid, say.
Interactivity in The Three Little Pigs is what I’d call just enough. It’s fun, but the story is still the main feature. You can tap on the characters to help them. For instance, tap on a pig holding a bunch of sticks to help her build her house. You can also blow into the microphone jack to help the wolf blow the houses down. And, there’s a bunch of fun things to tap on each page.
The super-high production value easily warrants the price: $7.99 on iPad and $3.99 on iPhone. (There’s also a free Lite version to check out.) The proof is in the pudding though – Olive has been repeatedly coming back and playing this app the same way she comes back to her favorite books.