Creepy stories are in high demand in our library, and engaging book apps for older readers are a real treat. I loved reading Slap Happy Larry's Midnight Feast this week - perfect for tweens and teens looking for a spooky tale.
Midnight FeastRoya lives in a world where her dreams blend with reality, and hunger is a constant part of life. She yearns for so much -- to be part of the adult world, to be part of her dream world. This story captures that yearning and longing that can be such a part of adolescence.
by Lynley Stace
developed by Slap Happy Larry
iTune App Store
nominated for Cybils 2013
ages 9 - 14
In the beginning, Roya struggles falling to sleep. "It's not that she was scared of the dark, exactly. Things were slightly more complicated than that." The artwork, narration and music create a sleepy, melancholy mood, but one that right away hints at something darker to come. If you select the option "Scary Sauce," dark haunting hands reach out from under the bed.
Stace develops this blend between worlds so you're never sure whether what she's seeing is solidly true or part of her active imagination. The interactive elements are layered enough to allow the story to shine through, but also to draw the reader back for repeated readings. At times, Roya's imaginary world literally interprets common sayings (her parents actually laugh their heads off), while at others she drifts into a surreal dream state.
When a black cat suggests to her that "Midnight's no place for a girl," Roya wonders, "Is midnight a place?" Roya begins dreaming of a midnight place, where there is dancing, revelry, and -- of course, a Midnight Feast. I love the way that Roya's dreams combine surreal elements--cats wearing fancy dress clothes--along with colorful dreamscapes that take her away from her dreary world.
I wholly agree with the Kirkus Review of Midnight Feast:
The sum of striking visuals, smartly restrained audio cues, subtle voice acting, unobtrusive narration and navigation, and always-relevant iPad interactive elements is more resonant than overwhelming. Younger readers may be confused and spooked by some of the story’s content; there’s an option to eliminate the “scary sauce” in the story (cleverly represented by a ketchup bottle).Teens might be interested in reading this and comparing it with the bookapp rendition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell Tale Heart. For teachers interested in experimenting with a layered, multimedia book app, definitely check out Slap Happy Larry's reading guide and activities.
Beautiful, haunting and completely original, Roya’s tale is a 12-course meal of intelligent storytelling.
The review copy came from our home app collection.
©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books