Bedtime Stories of the Future

Unwanted Guest is the newest interactive ebook release by Moving Tales, a developer that merges old world folk and fairy tales with the iPad’s new world possibilities. So far, they have tackled ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Peddlar Lady of Gushing CrossUnwanted Guest, a Jewish folk tale, is their newest admirable conquest.

Moving Tales takes these old stories and injects them with new life. Though they have only come out with three of these interactive and dazzling stories, Moving Tales promises more on the way (and they even donate 3% of their profits to a thematically related charity). The work of Moving Tales refutes claims about the limitations of books on the iPad and showcases the sheer possibilities of this medium. Imagine if your favorite childhood books were hijacked by a spirited troupe of actors, accompanied by an orchestral backdrop, and narrated by a man with a Smooth Jazz DJ’s soothing voice. And with that, you have Unwanted Guest.

Unwanted Guest tells the story of an older gentleman who has fallen on harder times, as his aging body mirrors his deteriorating house. To his unpleasant surprise, he is visited by an, you guessed it, unwanted guest. To reveal the identity of this guest would ruin the twists in this story—so I’ll leave it unspoiled for future readers. The story is told with poetic language and will linger with you for days after finishing the story.

What I can reveal is the beauty of animations. Unwanted Guest is a moving picture book. Each page of text is accompanied by an animation that takes us further and further into the story. Letters descend to form the words of the story and the narrator begins his recitation (you can actually record your own version of the narration and replay it at your leisure). One of Unwanted Guest’s peculiar (but occasionally frustrating) features is that you must hold you iPad completely level or the letters will fall of the screen halting the narrator’s reading. While this is visually stimulating the first few times, it becomes an inconvenience when it happens unintentionally. However, this interactive feature demonstrates the immense potential of stories on the iPad.

Moving Tales has a uniquely block-y style that gives their characters the air of caricature. However, the realism of the design does not suffer as shadows, expressive faces, and the manipulation of light all create a gorgeous visual experience. A minor complaint is that the images operate on a loop that occasionally repeats before the narrator has finished his breathy reading of the text.

As the story progresses, the images become progressively colorful, and you’ll find yourself more and more drawn into this tale. Moving Tales combines the simplicity of picture book illustration with the possibilities of animation and merges it with a memorable, moving story. While Unwanted Guest is a short story, there is much to return to. Every viewing in unique because there are randomly selected alternate views for each scene. Your favorite book’s illustration probably cannot top that.

Unwanted Guest is available for $4.99 in the App Store.