- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2012

Youngsters caught up in the exploits of Disney-Pixar’s animated Scottish heroine can borrow a parent’s iPad to further read about and interact within her first adventure in Brave: Storybook Deluxe (Disney Publishing, rated 4+, reviewed for iPad 2, $6.99).

I’ll just mention up front that I wish they made books like this when I was growing up.

This tempting, virtual page-flipping presentation highlights the exciting tale of the bow-wielding Merida, princess of DunBroch, caught right in the middle of a major bear problem.

Three reading modes — Follow Along (simply listen to multiple character narrators read the prose while looking at the words), Read and Explore (click icons on each storybook page to reveal activities and surprises while watching and listening) and Play (just get to some activities) — cover 36 pages and make for many ways for the child to stay engaged with the app.

One of the annoyances of any illustrated storybook (words blocking the art) is also solved as junior can simply read and then swipe the words away to reveal some incredible artwork. Or, more astounding yet, an actual clip from the movie comes to life from the revealed illustration.

Also tossed into the package is a pair of mini-games focused on Merida’s weapon of choice. Either an archery game that has the player direct Merida to shoot target (tap on tree mounted bull’s-eyes) while riding on horseback and a scavenger hunt to find collections of her favorite arrows hidden on the pages.

Additionally, six jigsaw puzzles and six virtual coloring pages will definitely keep the fan of the computer-animated cartoon busy.

If that is not enough, owners can also record their own voice while reading the book out loud and play it back to impress parents or the grandparents.

The Brave: Storybook delivers some welcomed iPad reading for younger members of the family.

Also, junior sequential-art lovers will appreciate the Brave Interactive Comic (Disney Publishing,$1.99) for the iPad. Essentially a motion comic, the book can be set to automatically play through each of the 48 pages or owners can swipe the touch screen to enjoy each panel at their own pace.

Each page features music and sound effects, but it does not contain the more robust features of the Deluxe Storybook.

However, it offers the entire story and some clickable pots of gold that lead to slideshows of gorgeous production art from the movie.

Additionally, the included How to Draw Guide offers young artists the ability to sketch Merida, Elinor, the Triplets and Mor’du.

It’s a step-by-step, tracing process using a finger as a pencil with different stroke widths (and colors), a zoom tool for adding fine details and a quick way to center the drawing. Finished works can be captured in the iPad’s photo collections and used as backgrounds or emailed out to friends.

My only beef with the comic presentation is it would have been nice to zoom into some of the comic art to really appreciate the work of Manuela Razzi.