The iTunes store has no shortage of fairy tale-themed apps and eBooks. A quick search for any of your favorite Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm stories will turn up hundreds of options for both “free” (quotations marks very intentional)  and paid options. Unfortunately, many of them feature artwork right out of a bad Disney rip-off film. As for the game-play, I never get that far. Of course, pretty art doesn’t always equal an engaging app either, so after going on a few fairy tale app journeys, we came back with a few favorites.

Hansel and Gretel: Lost by PB&J Publishing The beautiful, bright hand-drawn illustrated style of  Chilean artist Alvaro Pantoja Busch is what initially brought this app to my attention. The experience itself measures up to the art, with 21 interactive pages including 60 points of interaction. For my two girls, stuffing the two lost siblings full of witch house candy is a twenty minute activity in itself! The classic Grimm tale is also updated for modern children with the evil, child-dumping step-mom removed and Gretel re-positioned as a joke-cracking  girl-power role model.

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Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty:  3D Interactive Pop-up Book by StoryToys With this app, StoryToys Entertainment proves they are a company that fully realizes the power of the tablet platform.  This app takes the traditional pop-up book concept and lets young users play around and interact with the illustrations within the book.  Created to appear like an open book on a table, users read along and participate in 11 interactive 3D pop-up scene activities. My 2-year-old could not get enough of dressing up Briar Rose’s fairy friends and finding her way through a magic maze. Less scary than the Disney version and with added humor, Sleeping Beauty is a great intro to the StoryToys line.

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Lil’ Red – An Interactive Story by Brian Main Lil’ Red caught my eye after seeing a screenshot of its big-eyed heroine –  the creation of talented artist and illustrator Brian Main. Created solely in the stark pallet of black, white and red, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is given a humorous kid-safe update. Best of all, this app leaves it to the parent – or the child – to interpret the story; with animation, music and basic interactions being the main driver of the tale.  The wordless eBook approach, combined with the 3-color pallet and unique character illustrations, makes for a one-of-a-kind app experience.

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Cinderella by Nosy Crow Nosy Crow’s Cinderella features a beautifully sophisticated hand-drawn look and feel that is comparable to classic children’s property Charlie & Lola. Artist Ed Bryan’s brunette take on the one-shoed princess is infused with just enough visual humor and magic to set it apart from the countless other takes on this classic tale. In-story interactions are a must for eBooks, and Cinderella doesn’t disappoint, even utilizing the front facing camera. Young players will spend hours helping Cinderella clean the kitchen, dress her sisters for the ball, build her pumpkin carriage, and even choose the music for her dance with the Prince.

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Do you have a favorite fairy tale app? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

We have just come back from what has been established as an American tradition: the first family trip to Disney World. Unlike a recent “adult trip” we took, where the main objective was to get our FastPasses for the most intense rides possible, this time we had one “necessary” goal: meet all the Disney Princesses. Princess-mania has been in our house for over a year now, and Disney was as much about Mickey and the rides as it was about Cinderella and crew.

My wife, in-laws and aunt made it a mini-game to become Princess “completists,” getting all the signatures and photos of the faux royalty for Maia’s little book.  Be it top-tier princesses like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty or the more recently crowned like Tiana and Mulan, we were going to make it happen.

Maia had the time of her life, in awe of the in-person appearances of her cartoon heroes and barely able to eat at a Princess breakfast in the castle. She seemed not to notice that the actors changed every time she saw them and had no problem standing in line or searching far and wide to seek out hard-to-find characters like Mulan. While some characters were questionable in live-action form, others looked like Enchanted-style princesses, ripped from their cartoon settings to appear in person at Disney World.

We didn’t have to work as hard as I thought to complete the safari. We left Walt Disney World sweaty, tired but successful in our quest. The autograph tent in Mickey’s Toon Town made some of this easy, as did the breakfast in Cinderella’s castle. The less popular characters took a bit of searching, but we used logic (Pocahontas in the forests of Animal Kingdom, Mulan in Epcot’s China) and all were found on the first try. And, for the most part, the actors did an amazing job capturing the look and feel of the character.

Check out our personal “Princess safari” below and let us know what you think. Does Disney deliver the costumed character goods?

Snow White at Disney
Snow White: The O.G. Princess
Pocohontas
Pocahontas, at one with the costumed animals
SleepingBeauty
Sleeping Beauty, wide awake for photo opps
The Little Mermaid
Ariel sans fins
Princess Tiana
The new kids in town: Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen
Cinderella
Cinderella, ready to face those autograph hounds
Aladdin and Jasmine
Aladdin and Jasmine, properly dressed for the heat
Belle
Beauty and the Belle
Mulan
Mulan, the buried treasure of Epcot