News & Reviews

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Hibernated and blogged. More often about art.


~400k words were added to this storytelling blog.

Published a number of original stories and novellas at a new sister website: Slap Happy Larry Stories. “Doggy and Sam” was illustrated over lockdown, using Rebelle 3 to create the watercolour look. Later in the year, “Lemon Girl” was illustrated in comic book style using Affinity Designer.


This year we have decided to port our App Store storybooks over to Steam. First off the rank will be The Artifacts. This will be followed by Hilda Bewildered, since Hilda hasn’t been available on the App Store for a while now. We are looking forward to getting Hilda back out into the world, because it is our personal favourite!

The Artifacts and Midnight Feast will still be available on the App Store as well. Midnight Feast is free until we can fix the bug on page 8. We will eventually buy a new Mac desktop in order to do this. (Frankly, our existing Mac desktops are otherwise doing just fine, so we haven’t been able to justify the outlay.) If you’d like to download Midnight Feast while it’s free, go for it now, bearing in mind that page 8 may crash for you, depending on your device.

My short story “The Magic Pipe” was long-listed for The Commonwealth Short Story Prize (top 4%). Read it here if you’re interested in a re-visioning of The Pied Piper legend.


The Artifacts gets a mention in Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues edited by Nina Goga et al

New Media Writing Prize 2017

Hilda Bewildered was shortlisted.

Cybils Book Awards

Hilda Bewildered is a shortlisted work for the 2015 Cybils Book App Awards.

Children’s Technology Review

Children’s Technology Review awarded Hilda Bewildered an Editor’s Choice Award (2015-2016)

Review of Hilda Bewildered from School Library Journal

Tweens and teens are sure to appreciate Hilda, but don’t hesitate to share it with adults, who will also be enchanted by this atmospheric, imaginative story.


Review of Hilda Bewildered from Geeks With Juniors

Illustrated vividly, the scenes in the story feature deep symbolisms that prompt readers to think…Navigation is simple; tap on the left or right arrows to change the page…The beauty of the story is it can be interpreted in many ways. Is “The Other Hilda” imaginary or real? After all, there are people out there who share her living conditions.

Geeks With Juniors

Digital Picturebook Review of Midnight Feast (Japanese Language)

The folk at Digital Ehon note that while most storyapps are designed to appeal to a younger audience, Midnight Feast can appeal to a wider age range.


It’s interesting to read about reception across cultures. It’s nice to know that this one ‘translates’. Our Japanese reviewer has drawn attention to the emotional distance between parents and the young protagonist, and describes Midnight Feast as a subtle story about a child’s vague unease, and how her silent expectations waver.



The BolognaRagazzi Digital Award

Midnight Feast won an honorable mention with the following comment from judges:

Evocative, sinister and strange (you can turn down the scariness for younger readers), a story to linger over and take into your dreams, full of surprising changing perspectives.

Congratulations to the winner. We love ‘Love: The App’, and are proud to be up there alongside a high-quality production from Nosy Crow.

School Library Journal Review of Midnight Feast

Midnight Feast will appeal to older elementary students, teens, and teachers alike who will all find different delights and messages within. Don’t miss this haunting, meaningful story.

The full SLJ review

Midnight Feast was selected as one of SLJ’s Top 10 Apps of 2013

Starred Review of Midnight Feast from Kirkus

Beautiful, haunting and completely original, Roya’s tale is a 12-course meal of intelligent storytelling.

The full Kirkus review

– Midnight Feast was selected by Kirkus as one of the Best Book Apps of 2013.

Review of Midnight Feast from The Appy Ladies

Several bonus additions to this app make it a “must have” for teachers and homeschoolers that want an in depth study of a storybook app that not only goes beyond basic comprehension but explores literary terms and themes, vocabulary, and content across curriculum.

The Appy Ladies’ Review

Review of Midnight Feast from Digital Storytime

Gorgeous illustrations and beautifully paced interactive dialog create an immersive reading experience for readers ages nine and up.

Digital Storytime 5 Star Review

Review of Midnight Feast from Nina Lim

It’s not very often that an ebook comes along that intrigues and captivates you at the same time.

Review of Midnight Feast from Apps Playground

There’s something very eerie about Midnight Feast, a new storybook app for iPad by developer Slap Happy Larry. But in a very good way.

Midnight Feast Press Release

Slap Happy Larry, an independent app publishing team in Australia, announces their second storybook app for iPad.

Midnight Feast is a modern tale with a painterly art style designed to make best use of the iPad’s retina display. Forty-four pages of story encourage readers age 9 and above to consider themes of drought, food insecurity, and inequality. Author-illustrator Lynley Stace wrote this darker-than-average picture book to be enjoyed on several levels, with comprehension commensurate with age.

Along with their first storybook app, The Artifacts (2011), Midnight Feast emulates a traditional book with user-initiated page turns, while at the same time making use of new technologies. Non-signposted interactive hotspots are designed to encourage self-paced, exploratory reading and visual literacy. Interactions exist to further the plot, reveal character and support themes. Supernatural interactions can be de-activated via the options page.

Close reading notes for adult co-readers and teachers are available for free on Slap Happy Larry’s website, and can be accessed from inside the app.

Midnight Feast is an international collaboration. Lynley Stace (writer/illustrator) is an Australian resident from New Zealand. The app was coded and optimised by Australian senior programmer, Daniel Hare. The main story is narrated by American Matthias Bossi. An original soundtrack was composed by New Zealand musician and composer Chris Hurn.

App Availability and Pricing

Midnight Feast app for iPad is available in the app store for $3.99 and £2.49. Requires iOS 5 or later. 250 MB.


The Artifacts Press Release

Interactive Storybook App Promotes Visual LiteracyIn Middle Graders

Older children are encouraged to stick with picture books for longer with the release of this new story in digital format.

Murrumbateman, Australia – Slap Happy Larry has announced the release of their first storybook app for middle grade readers. ‘The Artifacts’ is a 21-page interactive digital picture book is a new story developed exclusively for Apple touch screen devices by author/illustrator Lynley Stace and developer Dan Hare.

“’The Artifacts’ is about a boy who loves to collect,” says author Lynley Stace, “but at a deeper level it is about valuing what is really important in life: education, memories and experiences.” While younger children can enjoy the story for its pictures and interactive elements, older children will better grasp the metaphorical undertones.

‘The Artifacts’ makes the most of Apple technology. The storytelling is enhanced by narration, integrated touch interactivity and soothing sound effects. The soundtrack was created especially for this story by New Zealand film and game composer, Chris Hurn.

“There are currently very few original storybook apps available for middle grade children and above,” says developer, Dan Hare. ‘We created an app to help fill this gap, with the belief that picture books can be enjoyed by children of all ages.”
“There is no real need to abandon picture books even after a young reader has advanced to chapter books,” says Lynley Stace, drawing upon former teaching experience. “Picture books offer the chance to develop visual literacy. This kind of literacy is more important than ever, now that we live in a world of ubiquitous advertising and lead compartments of our lives online.”

Designed to emulate the look and functionality of a real book, ‘The Artifacts’ features pages which are ‘turned’ by the reader. This invites readers to progress through the story at their own pace. Any of the 21 storybook pages can be accessed directly from the navigation menu. Narration offers extra help to emergent readers, though both narration and sound effects can be turned off from the main menu according to user preference. An auto-save feature remembers the reader’s place in the story.

The developers are philosophically opposed to advertising within storybook apps, and pledge to avoid in-app advertising in future projects equally. They also avoid hyperlinking to the Internet from within the story.

Established in 2011, Slap Happy Larry is a family-run Australian based company with plans to release more storybook apps in the future.

Device requirements: iPad, iPad 2, iPhone, iPod Touch. Requires iOS 3.1 or later.

Pricing and Availability: The Artifacts is $1.99 USD and available worldwide exclusively through the iTunes App Store in the Books category.

Review of The Artifacts from 148 Apps

“this app includes an interracial family, which has no real bearing on the story at hand, but it is just nice to see”

Review of The Artifacts From Curated Book Apps For Kids

“A captivating transformation of a teen, with great re-readability…” 5 Star Review

Review of The Artifacts From Gill Robins

“The Artifacts is highly sophisticated, provoking thought at several levels…” 5 stars for fun, 5 stars for educational value.

Review of The Artifacts From School Library Journal

“Everyone has been asking, “Where are the story apps for tweens and teens?”  Well, here’s one  for them. Will they respond to it? You bet. The artwork, the use of the platform, and this protagonist’s interior life are guaranteed to be all-s0-appealing to this audience.”

See also inclusion of for Best Of Enhanced Book Apps, March 2012

Review of The Artifacts From Literacy Journal

“The Artifacts is a celebration of the power of individual thought and imagination. It is at the top of Bloom’s triangle.  I highly recommend it for middle school iPads.”

Read the Literacy Journal review here.

Five Star Review of The Artifacts From Digital Storytime

“Overall this is a phenomenal digital app that takes storytelling to another level.”

Read the Digital Storytime review here.

Starred Review of The Artifacts From Kirkus

“This beautiful, resonant story about the way we leave behind childish things (but never really abandon them) delivers a specific, potent experience unusual even for the best iPad apps.”

Read the Kirkus review here.

Brooks Jones On The Artifacts

“I love the illustrations and the color palette the artist chose, as well as the gentle story.”

Read more here.

From Special Apps, Special Kids

“The rich vocabulary and imagery sparked conversations with my 8 year old.”

Read more here.

Review of The Artifacts From My Book Corner

“The Artifacts is a wonderful blend of story line and interactivity which directly involves and immerses the reader.”

Full review here.

The Artifacts In The New York Times

“The artwork is rich and beautiful and the animated interactions are imaginative and fun.”

See here for the full summary at the Gadgetwise Blog.

Review of The Artifacts from Geeks With Juniors

Lynley Stace, the author of this storybook, has created a wonderful and comprehensive Lesson Ideas to guide you as a parent (or a teacher) to accompany and guide your juniors in reading the story and understanding the various metaphors used throughout the book.