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Yellow Submarine dives into Apple as animated e-book

The Beatles' classic "Yellow Submarine" cartoon is now available through Apple's iBooks as a free interactive e-book for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It comes complete with animations, video clips, and music.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Beatles fans who dug the classic 1968 "Yellow Submarine" cartoon can now hop aboard their iPhones and iPads to revisit the adventure.

Now available as an e-book through Apple's iBooks store, "Yellow Submarine" tries to recapture the fun and whimsy of the movie by taking you on a journey through the magical paradise of Pepperland.

Much more than just another static e-book, "Yellow Submarine" is an interactive ride complete with full-color illustrations, animations, video clips, and music from the film.

Viewing the book page by page reveals many of the familiar scenes and characters, often animated. Sometimes the characters move by themselves. Other times tapping on a certain character causes it to move or laugh or change colors unexpectedly.

One cool page shows the Beatles popping their heads up through the Sea of Holes. Tapping on the head of John, Paul, George, or Ringo causes it to disappear and pop up in another hole. Another page reveals the large-nosed Suckophant monster sucking in other sea creatures.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

And at times, the familiar little Yellow Submarine can be seen swimming along in the background.

Beyond the animations, the book includes short clips from the movie. You can play the clip, pause it, and even launch it full-screen.

The book doesn't take you on the full psychedelic journey from the animated film. It's more of an abbreviated version with key scenes and music from the movie. But those are enough to immerse you in the story as the Beatles defend Pepperland from the Blue Meanies.

"Yellow Submarine" works on the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod Touch, but iPad users will enjoy the richest experience, viewing the pages in full-screen mode and more easily seeing the text.

iOS users can also tap in to some of the features of iBooks to enjoy "Yellow Submarine" even more.

The search mode lets you find specific pages by keyword. For example, searching for "Ringo" displays links to each page in which he's mentioned. You can turn the pages manually or set them to change automatically. And best of all, you can have the book read to you aloud by narrator Dean Lennox Kelly, who adds a certain flair to the story.

The book is labeled as children's fiction, but I think it'll mean more to adults who grew up on the Beatles and have fond memories of watching "Yellow Submarine" in their younger days. Of course, it could also be a great way to introduce kids to the Fab Four and their animated adventures.

Before you view "Yellow Submarine," you'll need to download the latest 1.5 version of iBooks. Released this week, the new update adds a full-screen layout mode, a larger selection of fonts, and a nighttime reading mode designed to be easier on the eyes.

"Yellow Submarine" isn't just a fun ride for Beatles fans; it also provides a peek at the type of interactive books we might see more of down the road.