I should love this book right? It’s got a LOT. Seriously, it does: solid illustration; non-cheesy animated effects like animating foreground and background separately to create a 3d effect; great narration including some of the original lines by Tom Hanks; built-in games including a pretty cool avoid-the-obstacles parachuting game; sing-a-long music; record-your-own narration (this is really cool!); a good soundtrack; a neat coloring-book application; well-done built-in video (not gratuitous – just in the right places); AND IT’S FREE. Yes, there is a lot here. It’s well worth the download.

But I can’t help feeling like it’s a color-by-numbers implementation by a well paid iPad developer. They’ve checked all of the boxes, but it lacks spirit. It allows you to do everything, but leaves little to the imagination. It’s a solid follow-on to the movie, but it doesn’t take you further. And it doesn’t get close to infinity or beyond. It only kind of hovers around entertaining. Maybe that’s it. That’s what I’m trying to put my finger on. It entertains. It doesn’t bring you into a narrative and allow you to explore a fantasy world or to create one of your own. It doesn’t do what I think a book should do – and that is to draw you into a world of characters, ideas, and dream-filled nights in which your mind continues the story. No, Toy Story is a rather hum-drum world with all of the pages (ironically) colored for you. There is a brilliant storyline taken straight from the film, but crunched down, compressed, and half-hearted in this iPad app.

Download it here.