Loud Crow launches its Bramble Berry Tales series with the debut storybook app, The Story of Kalkalilh (August 2013) based on a myth from the oral tradition of the Squamish, indigenous people of southwestern British Columbia, Canada.
During a visit with their grandparents in the Rocky Mountains, rebellious Lily gets up in the middle of the night to sneak a taste of Kookum’s delicious soapberry jam, while her big brother Thomas does everything he can to keep Lily from causing trouble. When the two get caught out of bed, Mooshum shares a folkloric cautionary tale about a cannibal woman, the Kalkalilh, who snatches small children who don’t do as they’re told.
The content sounds scary, but the “Read to Me” feature (complete with follow-along word highlighting), cartoon style, and rich color palette — sandy neutrals with bright pops of orange, yellow, and turquoise — aim this app squarely at preschool- and early elementary–aged users. There is also a “Read Myself” option for newly independent readers.
Certain words highlighted in red within the text link to Mooshum’s sketchbook, which provides the Squamish translation (and audio pronunciation) along with a brief description of each word. There seems to be little sense behind which words are chosen, however, and the accompanying descriptions lack substance — they aren’t really definitions, they’re simply Mooshum’s musings on the words, and only sometimes does he provide their cultural significance.
The animated intro is quite sophisticated, chronicling the children’s car ride from a city into the mountains; however, animation throughout the rest of the app is minimal. Each page turn brings slight movement to push the narrative forward, and then the characters hold that position for the rest of the scene, such as actors frozen onstage. Lulling string music and hidden touch-activated elements supplement the story. Book 2: The Great Sasquatch is set to be released in October 2013.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $2.99. Recommended for primary users.