Some years ago I purchased an interactive storybook app for Godzilla on the Apple iTunes store with an eye to reviewing it later for Toho Kingdom. The app included pictures from the movie and a serviceable but uninspiring retelling of the movie’s story, as well as a series of really boring puzzles in which the user was expected to put together tiles to recreate scenes from the movie in a time limit, often with many muddy tiles with similar textures depicting messy destruction, which made the games a hair-tearing guessing game. I read the book through once or twice and played through most of the “games,” though the last puzzle was so tough it threatened me with baldness, so I quit, and I never reviewed the app. Recently, with a free month trial of Kindle Unlimited, I downloaded the Godzilla Movie Storybook, and gave it a quick read-through. As I was reading the poorly-formatted affair, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the storybook app I had bought some time before, so I went looking for it.
Unfortunately, it appears I deleted the durned thing, and, worse, it is no longer available on the app store (so far as I can tell). I think the Godzilla Movie Storybook may have the same text as the interactive app, but now I can’t check to make sure. Not that the interactive elements make the book much better, but I will take what I can get.
The Godzilla Movie Storybook , based on Godzilla (2014), is another in the well-trodden tradition of movie-based storybooks for kids—long-time readers will remember my reviews of the great number produced for GODZILLA (1998), in which most of the books carefully danced around actually showing Godzilla except in one or two shots. The Godzilla Movie Storybook is a retelling of the 2014 film, and was written by three authors—Sarah Hines Stephens, David Callahan, and Max Borenstein. The book is only 12 pages long, so the story is much abbreviated, completely cutting out many key scenes.
Both the movie and the book tell the story of the Brody family and the insectoid MUTO monsters that appear and ruin their lives before attacking the wider world and eventually facing off against Godzilla. The movie storybook version cuts out almost everything about Ford Brody’s family, completely cuts out Dr. Serizawa and the other military characters, the discovery of the skeleton in the Philippines, the fight in Hawaii, and, for the most part, the sequence on the train. While Godzilla defeats the monsters, the manner in which the female monster is dispatched is delicately avoided. Basically, the text tries to be compact and kid-friendly, with not too much attention to character, and lots of attention to action.
Still, I can’t imagine most kids enjoying this text very much. The actual writing actually utilizes a pretty advanced vocabulary that will have younger kids who would read such a book scratching their heads, but the book does not include a glossary to help out the vocabularily challenged. What’s more, while the design of the book includes many huge, colorful pictures, all of the text is laid out over the pictures in tiny white lettering. It’s a pain to read, made worse by the fact that the Kindle version displays on my iPad as a series of two-page layouts, making the text twice as small. When I tried to make the text bigger, bizarrely only a small section of text would grow bigger, with words cut down the middle. I could not choose what I wanted to expand, and expanding barely helped me read anything. Further, while the pictures are fairly vibrant, they are also mostly very dark—this book does not look like something for kids. Like the movie itself, everything looks bleak and shadowy.
Still, at least we get to see Godzilla in multiple (gloomy) shots, so mini G-fans will enjoy that aspect of the book. For me, as a kid I would want to draw the monsters, but this book doesn’t really have very good shots to help me figure out the anatomy of the MUTOs either. As unimpressed as I was with the 1998 Godzilla books, I can’t say as I am much more impressed with the 2014 adaptation, either—and even if this book had had sound and lousy puzzle games, the improvement would have been marginal at best. Pass.