Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apps That Put Girls Center Stage: Magic Belles, Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, and Disney Fairies Fly

Your kids will love these four fun, creative, and inspiring apps. While these apps aren’t just for girls, they star female characters and have an overall feminine quality that leans toward the female side of the equation. There’s something for every age group here, from preschool to preteen. Each has an aura of specialness that makes it a perfect holiday gift. And speaking of gifts, we're giving away three copies of Magic Belles AND three copies of Thumbelina. Just leave a comment to this story with a way to reach you (email preferred) by 5pm EST on Monday, November 19th, 2012. And good luck!

Preschoolers will love Magic Belles by Luma Creative. It stars six Magic Belle characters who (according to the developer) “look after life’s special wonders,” but the Belles’ real talent is making music. Each Belle creates music in her own special environment in her own unique way. For example, Rainbow Belle makes music with the colors of the rainbow. Touching virtually anything—the rainbow, flowers, mushrooms, or pinwheels—in the picture makes music. Users can also explore the musical worlds of Cupcake, Butterfly, Flower, Love, and Star Belle. And users can combine the Belles to create a magical symphony. It’s altogether charming and gentle. There is some additional illustrated interactivity, but the primary focus and most of the functionality (and fun) is connected to the music making. And it’s heavenly. The Belles make a magical brand of music that sounds like an electronic celesta or a row of hand bells. The sound really does put me in the holiday spirit. At $1.99, the price is right. And don't forget to leave a comment to win this wonderful app!

Users just learning to read will love Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty by Story Toys priced at $4.99. It works as a beautifully illuminated book with several convincingly realistic 3D pop-up pages. The pop-up pages invite users to tap on images for interactivity and games. This Sleeping Beauty is different than the well-known Disney version, offering the tale as the Brothers Grimm wrote it. Beauty falls into an enchanted sleep that lasts for a hundred years before she is found (almost accidentally) by a handsome prince. The app uses Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz that was interpreted as “Once Upon A Dream” in the Disney version. This app can be enjoyed by readers and pre-readers, as the “read to me” mode enables users to work their way through the book in order to get to the fun and interactive pop-up pages. The app can be used in English, French, Dutch, or Spanish.

Just right for more confident young readers is Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina priced at $2.99. It’s an elaborately illustrated storybook app with a rock music score. Illustrated by Oleksandr Pogrebniak, this Russian-made app is soulful with a rock-and-roll heart. Thumbelina looks like vintage psychedelic Sergeant Pepper illustrations mixed with the art and craft of imperial Russia, resembling elaborate enamel or gilt work. Thumbelina herself looks like a pretty neo-hippie. There are one or two spots where the English translation is less than perfect but the sheer beauty of this app is an inspiration. Layers of the story unfold like an extremely elaborate pop-up and foldout book. Thumbelina finds happiness with the Prince of the Elves, who looks a bit like Adam Ant. And remember, you can win this app by leaving a comment, too.

Users need great dexterity to fly as Tinkerbell in the game Disney Fairies Fly Lite (meaing free). The Disney Fairies are all about being the caretakers of the four seasons. Disney Fairies Fly Lite is a fun and challenging game where Tinkerbell and her friends fly through Pixie Hollow collecting objects needed to prepare for the change of the seasons. Users lose pixie dust if they collide with obstacles like birds. If you run out of pixie dust before you’ve made it to the end of the course, you’ll have to re-do the level. Users control Tinkerbell’s flight pattern by tilting their device forward and back to fly up and down. Other controls allow you to “dash” (fly really fast) for extra points. It’s easy to fly but difficult to fly well, so users won’t whiz through this app anytime soon.

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