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Hansel and Gretel app review

hansel and gretel titleIf you’re in the mood to be a little bit scared, a little bit charmed, and maybe a little bit hungry for sugary houses, the Hansel and Gretel app by Fusee (2015; iOS only) might just be for you. On each page of this adaptation, you can listen to the (sometimes forced) rhyming text and follow along; phrases turn yellow as they’re read, making this a good tool for reinforcing reading skills. Tap the characters and animals on each page to get them to talk (or tweet). If you tap them more than once, you’ll often get a different line of dialogue. You get to steer the conversation by deciding who speaks when — and can even make them interrupt the narrator if you want. Oh, the power!

The traditional “Hansel and Gretel” story, like many fairy tales, has its scary parts. If, say, a witch who wants to fatten children up and cook them isn’t your thing, then this app isn’t likely to be, either. The tone, though, is fanciful, with lots of glowing golden light in the images, and music that wouldn’t be out of place in a Harry Potter movie. And although the words are frank about people’s fates and possible fates, nothing in the visuals is graphic and much is cartoony.

hansel and gretel witch

In a neat extra feature, you can turn any page of the story into a puzzle. And not a jigsaw puzzle, where all you have to do is figure out where the pieces go — you have to figure out how to get them there. The image is scrambled with one puzzle-piece slot left open; you have to strategize how to get pieces out of one another’s way until everything is where it should be. It’s more challenging than it sounds (at least if you’re me).

hansel and gretel puzzle

Hansel and Gretel is a good balance of different types of experiences: a cozy, interactive storytime, and an engaging game that you know you can win…if you can just figure out what to do with that one pesky piece. Just right for a rainy day.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $3.99. Recommended for primary users.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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