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THE UGLY DUCKLING by Hans Christian Andersen


by Hans Christian Andersen retold by Andrew Lang illustrated by Rimma Zainagova & developed by XIMAD

Pub Date: June 14th, 2011
Publisher: XIMAD

Pretty, idyllic country scenes across which touch- or tilt-sensitive figures glide give this unabridged version of the tale a cozy, slightly antique look.

Though still a bit long and deliberately paced for modern audiences with short attention spans, Andrew Lang’s century-old rendition of the Andersen fable is at least less bedizened with precious verbiage than the Danish original and its many more exact translations. The newly created art is bright and naturalistic, with sweet touches like bonnets for the mother ducks and—despite a reference to his “long naked neck”—a uniform covering of silky down on the gracefully posed new hatchling. Though text so nearly fills the 28 screens that often the opaque waterfowl and other animal characters cover large portions, the obstructions can be temporarily moved aside or even offstage easily enough with a fingertip or tilt. There is no audio narration, but along with a short loop of piano-led orchestral music (which can be switched off when it becomes tedious) and some automatic sound effects, tapping many of the figures sets off volleys of chirps, squawks, quacks, giggles and, for the swans, chimes. Well suited for a sustained read-aloud, it is neither stiffly formal nor as mannered or cartoony as the flock of other online editions. A mention of the author and translator somewhere would have been nice, though. (iPad storybook app. 6-9)