- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2012

Monstropolis’ top scare team, James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, returned to movie theaters in December in a 3-D version of their classic Disney/Pixar adventure.

The pair also recently debuted on the iPad for youngsters to read about their animated exploits in Monsters, Inc. Storybook Deluxe (Disney Publishing, rated 4+, reviewed with iPad 3, $6.99).

Offering a 35-page adaptation of the movie, the interactive book mixes narrated short paragraphs for young readers to digest, slightly animated hot spots, an occasional film clip and some really beautiful illustrations.

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Within a tale exploring the clever concept in which human children’s screams are captured and used as fuel to power the city of Monstropolis, Sulley and Mike have their hands full when a little girl named Boo sneaks into the Monsters, Inc. factory, creating bigger scares for its workers.

First, a cautionary note to parents purchasing the book. Mom and Dad should not be alarmed if their 6-year-old spontaneously starts screaming his lungs out while looking at the iPad. The child is probably just trying to access the interactive book, which requires a hearty shriek to fill up an on-screen scream canister and unlock the pages.

Yeah, it’s pretty clever the first dozen times.

As a reader uses the iPad’s touch screen to flip though pages, he can follow along and listen to each word read or record his own voice reading the lines and then play back his accomplishment.

While exploring, I can’t highlight enough the large and colorful illustrated pages on the iPad 3 (swipe to move the text out of the way) and the hot spots that might change the chameleonlike Randall Boggs’ color, shred a door or have Boo giggle.

The handful of animated clips from the movie also are impressive, delivering a lifelike quality to the action when viewed on the Apple device.

A second level of interactivity is found by tapping on the hidden scare canisters in the illustrations to reveal and collect Scare Cards of famous Monsters, Inc. workers, including the furry George Sanderson, multi-eyed Ted Pauley and the spiky Augustus Jones.

Not only do these trading cards flip to list detailed statistics on the character, but players also can select a card, enter the Scare Simulator Room and take on an obstacle course to try to collect the most points.

A player tilts the iPad to navigate around a floor filled with toys, careful not to bump into the human-infected objects, and must let out a roar when at the foot of a mechanical child’s bed to have him react.

Despite the active reading fun, including sound effects and the original voices of Sulley and Mike (John Goodman and Billy Crystal, respectively), a couple of tweaks could have made this a top-notch storybook for the fan.

First, it would have been nice to have the Scare Cards offer a character’s spoken line of dialogue and maybe a photo gallery. Second, a couple more games tied to the cards would have made the Scare Simulator Room a much less repetitive experience.

Still, the key replayability here is having junior record and listen to himself reading the book. It’s a staple of the mobile Disney publishing line-up and helps make Monsters, Inc. Storybook Deluxe a worthy addition to a youngster’s virtual library.

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