Flora and friends spend an afternoon flying a kite on the lawn in the storybook app Flora’s Forest (NoodleBright and HabitatSeven, 2012). Then a huge gust of wind snaps the string, and Flora chases her kite into the dark forest where eerie sounds and creepy shadows set an unsettling scene. When Flora stumbles upon a strange red creature with three eyes, she nearly flees in terror. Happily, she discovers that the monster is actually adorably harmless. She enlists its help in the hunt for the missing kite, picking up two other furry monster friends along the way, and by combining their special talents they find the kite at the top of a tall tree.
Helen Dardick’s illustrations capture the whimsy of the magical forest through vibrant pinks, greens, and other colorful patterns reminiscent of decorative fabric. Interactive elements such as simple animations and touch activated sounds are the app’s strongest attributes. Of particular interest are the yellow monster’s percussive antlers as well as the scene with the musical raindrops, both of which encourage independent play.
And for a refreshing change, various shifts in perspective, from close-ups to long shots, are used to transition from scene to scene, rather than the overused simulated page turn.
Visually speaking, the app is successful. The text, however, is another matter. The app’s only reading option — read to me — comes with a text highlighter that moves faster than the narration. Furthermore, awkward rhymes barely fit into couplets because each line is laden with far too many syllables.
It’s unfortunate that Flora’s imaginative, musical, and entertaining forest expedition is marred by bad poetry.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); free. For primary users.