Slice of Bread goes to the Beach is the second beautiful children’s book from Jelly Biscuits.com. At this point interactive books for children has matured into a market where there is so much product that it’s difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff, so I’m happy to say (getting in the pun at the same time) that Slice of Bread is Wheat and later even Multigrain, but that comes later in the story. It plays on all iOS devices but since the specificity of the illustrations are so detailed, it was meant for, and looks far better on an iPad than a smaller screen.
The sumptuous look of the book is due to its illustrator Gregg Mellenhorst, a visual effects supervisor at LLoura in Melbourne Australia, and an extremely talented and quirky artist who entered the app store last year with Food Fight! a delightful story about sausage eating boys and boy eating sausages. This time around we meet a grumpy beach combing slice of bread who has one red sandal and is in search of treasure.
He drives his toaster-car to the beach and digs everywhere but all he can find is junk.
Driving to the Beach
Eventually he gets soaked, turned into toast, and grumpily can’t find the other sandal or anything that isn’t junk. What he finally finds is a friend who happens to be a slice of Mulitgrain bread, and whose favorite thing also happens to be looking for treasure. She happens to have the other red sandal. The beauty of the book is not the fairly mundane story when it’s read literally and linearly; the best part comes from the interactive nature of the book that really gives you an idea of who Slice of Bread really is and what is important to him.
You’re not given any clues as to what is interactive in the pages, but that’s the fun of it, since trying just about anything deepens the story. As he digs he finds all sorts of stuff, like valuable statues, bags of money, sparkling watches, it seems to go on forever, but this is all considered junk. Keep digging and you don’t know what you’ll find.
Digging and finding nothing but junk
After he gets soaked and takes a nap on the beach he turns to toast, and when you scratch him off and he sheds crumbs, you are treated to marching ants coming for a snack. The animation and 3D rendering is great, but the story, even when all the neat hidden elements are discovered, may be a bit too disjointed and basic. I would have expected something to happen when Slice and Mulitgrain both realize they have matching sandals, but these are breads of little brains and never put that much together. In fact the book ends with both of them looking for sandals.
Having a rest by the pile of junk
Of course they found the thing that was more important than sandals or or treasure — friendship. And so the story ends happily.
I don’t think I’ve seen better 3D renderings than what Glenn Melenhorst can create, but I didn’t think this outing contained as satisfying and interesting a story as in Food Fight!, his previous opus. The maladies that befall our hero seem fairly random and don’t make up what I would consider a cohesive story.
Technically, it’s a mixed bag. On the brighter side, there is a settings screen that allows you to toggle reading, page turning, and sounds effects.
The settings screen
This is fairly standard is interactive children’s books but the advantage is the wonderful reading done by Glenn in his strong Aussie accent which just seems right. There is also the ability to get to any page by pushing up the little Slice found between the two pages.
One thing that might confuse small children is that when Read To Me is enabled. touching a word speaks that word over the reading which doesn’t stop or pause to let you hear the selected word. I was also a bit befuddled over the meaning of the choice of Sound. In many other books, Sound has nothing to do with voice but refers to sound effects or sometimes music, but here Sound refers to whether or not a word will be highlighted and pronounced when touching it with the Read To Me function disabled. With Read To Me off and Sound on, touching a word highlights and speaks that word. With both options off, touching the word highlights it in blue but that’s it. I think the meaning of the options could have been made a bit clearer.
When a Seagull chases our hero all over a two page spread and you move Slice all over the sand to avoid the bird, it’s quite possible to go to far in the direction of the fence in the upper left and thereby cause a page turn. I think that should have been avoided.
Avoiding the Seagull
Slice of Bread goes to the Beach is well worth the $2 charged, but I’m told the price will rise — and when that happens I’m not as convinced. The story and technical prowess isn’t what sells this book, what sells it is the drop-dead gorgeous illustrations by Glenn Melenhorst, fun animations, a good deal of repeat play-value and the letter perfect narration once again, courtesy of Glenn. It’s not up to level of Food Fight! but it’s not far behind.