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The Waking Prince e-book review

The Waking Prince (The Story Elves, March 2013) is an original fairy tale set in a kingdom where witches curse people over any grievance, no matter how small. Everyone knows that when a princess falls victim to a curses, it’s a prince’s duty to break the spell. But Prince Jeremy guiltily wonders if princes should also use their abilities to help the many ordinary citizens afflicted by curses.

When Jeremy gets word that Princess Eleanor has been put into an enchanted sleep, he attempts to wake her with a kiss — yet the spell remains unbroken. Humiliated, he disguises himself and observes as other princes from around the world make the same attempt and fail as well. It’s not until Jeremy, following his conviction that common people are owed magical assistance too, breaks the curse on an innkeeper’s dog that he is able to finally wake Eleanor.

This substantial (seventy page–long) e-book is written with fairy tale–appropriate language and imagery while raising contemporary issues of class and power. Sharp-eyed users may note allusions to traditional tales in the beautifully detailed pencil drawings, done on sepia backgrounds with white highlights and touches of muted color.

In a unique interactive feature, users rotate their iPad to access the hidden “couplet.” This horizontal third page per spread, presented as an “elven” bookmaking innovation, allows for the inclusion of thirty-five additional scenes or perspectives in full color.

a couplet reveals before-and-after images of a curse

“The Story Behind the Story” provides a shorter narrative about the Story Elves’ (the e-book’s writer, illustrator, designer, and editor) creative process, while “The Next Story” section employs a “quadruplet” feature to show their notes and sketches for an upcoming app. An animated narration tutorial led by Tristan the Tarsier (a character who’s apparently part of the Story Elves’ workshop and by turns endearing and a bit creepy) invites users to become “The Last Character” by reading the story aloud. The tutorial offers plenty of helpful tips; an option to record personalized narration would have been a nice touch.

The equally well-designed Story Elves website offers a vast amount of writing, drawing, and designing advice.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $3.99. Recommended for primary and intermediate users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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