Requirements for this app: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Not available on other tablets or digital readers.
“The Waking Prince” is a 75-page book with 35 elven couplets (or extra scenes) written and designed by The Story Elves. Their first original fairy tale, “The Walking Prince” tells the story of a young prince with mystical powers that can wake others with a kiss. The Story Elves also encourages writers and teachers to create their own stories through online tools like the Workshop Room and tips.
Intrigued by the animated opening provided by Tristan the Tarsier, I was ready to read the tale to my three-year-old daughter. She loved Tristan, and has since watched the video countless times. Unfortunately, her attention waned about three pages into the book. This isn’t altogether surprising for a toddler, so I read the book on my own and then my bright eight-year-old nephew read it with his mom.
For better or worse, we all came to a similar conclusion. The illustrations are beautiful, detailed and engaging. For readers or aspiring artists interested in picture books, it includes lovely visuals. However, the story itself doesn’t align to the reading and attention levels of most picture book readers. The vocabulary is better suited to an older reader, but an older reader may not be interested in the storyline and pictures. The design feature that takes readers to the secret elven page is charming, however, the reader can keep flipping the pages without ever using the feature. Additional “secret” text might also make it more enticing to rotate the iPad and view these beautiful drawings.
From a functionality standpoint, I think an auto-play feature would help with pacing and engagement. Another recommendation is to add a meter that more clearly indicates where you are in the story. Until I accidentally tapped the correct area of the screen, I had no idea how many pages I had left to read.
Creating stories, illustrations and an iPad app are not easy accomplishments, so I don’t want to take away from their passion and desire to tell stories in an inventive fashion. In “The Next Story” section of the app, it seems that the authors are aware of their use of “big words,” so this review is likely not a surprise. Hidden within the hat icon, their explanation seems to stand up to our assessment. However from a parent’s standpoint—and from my nephew’s standpoint—I’m not sure they have hit their target audience.
For reviews of other iPad apps, books (like Dr. Seuss, a personal favorite), media and more, Common Sense Media is an excellent tool for parents looking for objective information as well as feedback from other parents.
Kelsey Combellick is a working mom who loves travel, cooking, wine and her family. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.