Apps such as Ghost Hand Games’ Legend of Momotaro , which blend traditional stories with cutting edge technology, are one of the reasons that I love the iPad. This digital storybook offers the reader a visually stunning, detail-laden version of a Japanese folk tale about a young boy who is bestowed upon a childless couple after he arrives bobbing up the river hidden within a giant peach. Momotaro (peach child) grows up to be a hero, albeit a very modest one, through bravery and perseverance.
As one reads the story, the images unfurl horizontally, as a traditional Japanese paper scroll (Emakimono), rather than employing simulated page turns. The story’s text scrolls vertically within the horizontal frames. This blend of horizontal and vertical interaction coupled with the gentle swaying of the digital plum trees or bubbling teakettle helps draw the reader in.
Throughout the story there are interactive hot spots, which the reader may uncover by tapping the screen or gently shaking the iPad until the hot spots sparkle. Tapping the hot spot brings up an origami-like piece of paper with the word in English, a picture of the word, plus three ways to express written Japanese: Romaji (transliterated), Hiragana, and Kanji.
The app’s hot spots name many features of the natural world, as well as common animals. It also introduces Japan’s symbolic “language of flowers” to the reader, and gives the reader a chance to dress Momotaro in a variety of traditional armor.
Readers of the Legend of Momotaro by Ghost Hand Games will enjoy the app’s lightly animated sequences. The story includes no adverts. Social media links are limited to a tiny share button at the story’s beginning and end, plus a similar button to share user-created armor. These links are not parent-protected.
While some pre-readers may enjoy the story, it’s aimed at readers age 7 and up. While the reader can opt to listen to Yuko Kishimoto’s lovely narration, the text is fairly dense and there is no word highlighting, making it more appropriate for independent readers. It is a good book for younger children to read with parents.
The narration worked well if I listened to the entire story. Unfortunately, if I tried to read the story to myself, I found the narration kept restarting automatically as I scrolled through the text. Learning Japanese vocabulary and cultural information was very interesting, though I would have liked a brief definition of the differences between Romaji, Hiragana, and Kanji. Additionally, I wish the app would remember which vocabulary the reader has “found” even if the app is closed.
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
Emily is a US-based freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. Follow her on Twitter: @whatwentwrite. She also writes for PadGadget at http://www.padgadget.com/author/emily/