Wednesday, January 8, 2014

MirrorWorld app, by Cornelia Funke: exploring a fantasy world with transmedia (ages 10 - 16)

I've long been fascinated by the way authors use different types of media to tell stories, whether it's the written word, audiobooks, films or plays. So it's natural that I've been drawn to apps that combine multimedia approaches to tell stories. But I've been truly amazed by MirrorWorld, an app written by best-selling fantasy author Cornelia Funke to build and extend a fantasy world from her new series of novels. This app is a wonderful example of transmedia storytelling, where authors use a variety of media to tell different aspects of the story.
written by Cornelia Funke
developed by Mirada Studios
2013 Cybils Book Apps finalist
ages 10 - 16
iTunes App Store
The first thing you'll notice about MirrorWorld is the way it invites you to explore the fantasy world from Reckless and Fearless in a nonlinear way. Once you push through the mirror, you find yourself in the Ogre's Tavern. It's a bizarre place, with a severed arm wrapped in chains, a witch's brew, a treasure hunter's gold coins, and more. Wander through the tavern and choose what you want to read, or use the table of contents to read and watch in a more organized fashion.

These sixteen short independent chapters expand Funke’s fantasy world with original content, seamless integrating beautiful illustrations, audio narration, music, and animation. Whether documenting animated fencing instructions or telling how Jacob Reckless first met the treasure hunter Albert Chanute, this app is both an intriguing introduction for those new to the world and exciting backstory for fans who want more. Check out this trailer for a sense of the app:

MirrorWorld’s art direction is perfectly on tone with the dark and beautiful content. The art is at once sophisticated and simple, never overpowering the story. In "A Bad Substitute Father", readers can either "view the spectacle" and watch a shadow play while listening to Funke read the chapter aloud, or they can read the story themselves. This reinforces the book qualities of this app, while exploring the multimedia opportunities presented by the iPad's interactive features to let readers explore this world.

This app truly grows the reader's sense of this fantasy world, instead of defining it the way so many movies do. Funke and Mirada help readers discover the way they like to imagine this world, whether it's through a shadow play, a narrated story, or a picture book fairy tale. Funke's writing is beautiful, and her narration is lyrical. I really felt like I was glimpsing into her imagination.

I must say that I have not read the MirrorWorld novels, though I am now drawn to them. That's the fascinating thing about transmedia -- each element can be enjoyed independently or as part of a whole.

For a fuller discussion of transmedia, check out this post by Sarah Towle: Transmedia and Crossmedia -- One and the Same?

The review copy of this app was provided by the developer, as part of the Cybils awards process. The Cybils winners will be announced on February 14th. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. I love this series and didn't know there was an app, how cool!

    1. Please do let me know what you think of the app. I'm really interested to hear from a fan of the series how the app extends Jacob's world.