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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Publisher: So Ouat

Developers So Ouat (they're French, so it's a little pun on "so what") have produced some great product already for iPad, and each ebook they release shows slightly more polish. The choice to bring Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves to iPad is an interesting departure from more saccharine material like "The Three Little Pigs" and "Goldilocks." Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is part of a completely different storytelling tradition culturally, and it includes a somewhat different storyline. Just as the Big Bad Wolf ends up in hot water, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves takes the hot water trick into the human realm. If you have qualms about your kids being exposed to death-by-scalding and knife-in-heart content, steer clear of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But let's face it: This type of content is par for the course in most of the classic fairytale literature.

If you've never purchased a So Ouat production for iPad, they have a distinctive approach. English-French versions of the book are recorded, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves shows none of the typos or dubbing errors that we noticed in earlier books. If older kids choose to read, or be read to by their parents, that option is available. There's also a mode that highlights specific words, for early readers that may still need additional context and definitions. Selecting the "Show Me" feature auto-plays the book, turning pages in time with the narrator. The only thing we noticed that was glitchy was a tendency for audio to bleed over across pages, but this could likely be fixed in future updates. The most noticeable improvement is better timing of the animation on each page, when viewing in "Show Me" mode.

The story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is a great lesson in greed, forgiveness, and love. It does have some elements that parents may have a hard time explaining to young kids, but there's nothing too graphic in the illustrations. Put simply, concerned parents could easily improvise around the story and skip the illustrations if they liked the other 98% of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. What's exciting about this release is that So Ouat seems to be in the process of constantly improving the quality of their product. At this rate, we can't wait to see what they come up with next.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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