The iPad does many things well, but I’m partial to its ability to reinvigorate a reader’s interest in a classic tale whether it’s Frankenstein, “The Tell-tale Heart“, or a fairy tale, the iPad helps developers create new interpretations of familiar stories. So it is with Brian Main‘s Lil’ Red.
Lil’ Red brings a modern aesthetic to the well-known story of Little Red Riding Hood. As Lil’ Red’s creators know, they probably aren’t introducing readers to Red for the first time, so they get to have a little fun by creating beautiful streamlined graphics that tell the tale without a single written word.
To quote American Modernist Paul Rand, “Design is so simple, that’s why it’s so complicated.” Apps often fail because their design is unnecessarily complex or downright unattractive. Despite falling for the Big Bad Wolf’s Granny impersonation, Lil’ Red avoids this common pitfall and doesn’t get tripped up over aesthetics.
Lil’ Red is restrained, using only black, white, and red in its illustrations, yet these restrictions (along with her oversized black eyes and exaggerated lashes) set off Red’s playful, inquisitive nature.
Lil’ Red’s journey through the forest can take as long as the reader likes. Stop to pick some flowers, or plonk down a pine cone or an apple on the Wolf’s head. All of the interactive elements make sense within the context of the story, and kids are sure to giggle when they discover where Granny is hiding.
The story’s sound track is reminiscent of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, as characters have short, representational melodic themes. Rather than just adding another busy element, the app’s soundtrack music propels the story forward. The developer used sound effects wisely as well. The reader can hear Lil’ Red’s footsteps, bird sounds, or a ticking clock at times, but at other times the app is silent, which keeps the reader’s attention focused on the plot.
Finally the app deals with the story’s climax in a way that injects enough cartoon humor into the scene to avoid it feeling too scary. The app’s final screen shows the Big Bad Wolf following the Three Little Pigs off screen. Is another app in the works? We can only hope.
Download Lil’ Red for iPad2 or the new iPad from the App Store for $3.99.
What I liked: Kids don’t need to be able to read to enjoy the story, but the plot is expertly told through simple pictures that even very young children can understand. And, is it ever adorable.
What I didn’t like: Nothing!
To buy or not to buy: Whether a reader chooses to download Lil’ Red to enjoy its modernist aesthetics, or just want a new way to tell his kids Little Red Riding Hood’s story, he will definitely enjoy this simple, elegant adaptation of a timeless tale.
- App Name: Lil’ Red
- Version Reviewed: 1.01
- Category: Books
- Developer: Brian Main
- Price: $3.99