A Brief Review of Alice for the iPad

by scottjlI purchased Alice today and I'm quite impressed. The developer put some time and effort into the book, not just the extras. I have read the original story, and seen many movie and TV adaptations (my imagination was never harmed to my knowledge).

Looking at just the "book" alone, it's the complete story of "Alice in Wonderland" and does not include "Through the Looking Glass." It is beautifully illustrated using what I would describe as antique style watercolor drawings on parchment paper. It is not your typical eBook in the sense that you can not alter font size, spacing, or colors. Sorry. But the dark black font is large and easy enough to read against the parchment color behind most of it (some words may fall on some of the drawings, but those drawings are lightened to make the text easier to read). A few pages use a different color scheme, but they are the exception, such as white text on a black background, again, very easy to read. Black and white, or color drawings appear on most pages and illustrate what is happening in the text. There are a few pages that have no text and are just a scene from the book, with some sort of animation. Pages do not rotate when you turn the page, the book is meant to be read in portrait mode, home button on the bottom. At the bottom of the page is a forward arrow, a backward arrow and a Cheshire Cat's head which calls up the table of contents. You can not swipe these pages to turn them and there is no curl animation, the pages slide to the next or previous page. There is a slick spinning graphic if you select a page to jump through through the ToC.

I would describe this as a "digital age pop-up book" as the interactions are very limited, there are no games, video, web pages, etc. Many are simply objects that fall down the page when it is turned to, turning the iPad results in the objects falling to the new "floor". If there is more than one object they will stack up on top of each other. Care was taken so that they do not obscure the text.

There are very limited sound effects, the only one I found was a horn when opening the ToC. This is my only complaint, the beautiful book is strangely silent. A few more sound effects would have been a nice touch. Ruffling of cards, a squak from a flamingo, the dutchess sneezing, anything really.

Is it worth the $9? Well. Maybe more like $4.99 in my opinion. It has limited replay value, and the story itself is available for free. It is only some 52 pages, including the few that are nothing but a graphic. It's not as much of a kid story as the free Toy Story book, which younger children might play with over and over. Most people will read and work through this once, maybe twice, then use it to show off to friends. I can't see anyone reading this nightly to themselves.

It is a very good example of a book that is great to look at, has a good story, and some good interaction for the user without a game. If it were a printed book it still would be a good book to look at and read, the artwork really is very well done. I look forward to seeing what else the developers come up with. Some "easter eggs" might have been interesting too, to see what people can find hidden in the book.

On a scale of 1-5, I'll give this a 3.5. A good story to illustrate in this manner, beautifully done, but with limited replay value (as pretty much any book is going to be) and maybe a few bucks more than what I would have thought for it.

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