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The Complete Fairytale Play Theater app review

fairytale-play-theater-titleCombine elements from Nosy Crow’s fairy-tale app series (The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, and Goldilocks and Little Bear) to stage your own once-upon-a-time puppet show with The Complete Fairytale Play Theater (September 2016; iOS only).

Start a new story and give it a title and byline on the opening menu; you’re then taken to a red-curtained toy-theater screen. Create your first scene by tapping the settings icon, then selecting from a dashboard of scenery across the top and another of characters along the bottom. Toggle between scenery/music and characters/props menus by tapping the musical-note icon and knight’s-helmet icon at the right. Each tale offers a wide range of choices for places; human, magical, and creature characters (some with multiple poses, costumes, or expressions); props and costumes; and music (from light ‘n’ cheery to oompa-oompa to slightly spooky). Turn a wheel at the left side to access elements from the various fairy tales — you can keep your story within a specific tale’s canon (booo-riiing) or mix and match pieces.

Once you’re satisfied with your set and musical accompaniment, tap the red record icon, then tap and drag your characters and props around the screen to record action. Use the microphone function on your device to add dialogue and/or narration. The puppets bob and sway a bit in response to their movement, and their mouths move along with dialogue. Zoom in and out for more control over the perspective. (View your recording by pressing the green play icon, then re-record and re-re-record if desired.) Continue adding scenes until your narrative is complete. Access brief tutorials for each part of the process by tapping the info icon at top right.

Any of your individual scenes from any of your saved stories may be re-recorded, moved, or deleted at any time. When you’re happy with your saved scenes, watch your story as a whole — the curtain closes and opens between each scene to maintain the theatrical feel.

Here’s my story:

Snow White and Little Red

Once upon a time, Little Red set out for Grandmother’s house with a basket of food. She made her way through the forest, unaware of a hungry wolf following close behind. In a clearing in the wood, Little Red stumbled across a glass coffin with a sleeping girl inside, and gave the girl a sandwich from her basket to raise her low blood sugar. The girl, whose name was Snow White, spotted the lurking wolf and (now back at her full strength) kicked him in the shins, and Little Red whacked him over the head with her basket. Grandmother and the seven dwarves arrived just in time to haul the wolf away, and they all lived happily ever after…except for the wolf, who went to jail. The End

Of course, some of what I imagined for my story — such as Little Red actually handing the sandwich to Snow White, let alone a mob of dwarves hoisting the big bad wolf into the air and carrying him off — isn’t possible with the limitations of a stick-puppet show. I also opted to forgo voiceover. But, overall, I was pretty happy with the end product.

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Here I’ve reviewed the “complete” version, released today, which includes all six fairy tales; a “standard” version with one fairy tale plus the option to buy more through in-app purchases ($1.99 per tale) is coming soon.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 8.0 or later); $9.99. Recommended for primary and preschool 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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