The Little Mermaid: Interactive Story

Design Approach

– Without taking away from the beauty of the illustrations create an experience that is very medium specific.
– Subtle interactions to allow for the imagination to take hold of the reader

Role: Interaction and UI Design.
Software: Photoshop, Maya, In-house painterly rendering software


Kirkus Review

AAndersen’s classic text is paired to Zwerger’s elegant, subdued illustrations and animated with graceful restraint. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much going on. A page of text appears, with a fish bobbing as if in a slight current at the bottom of the page. It looks as though it has been submerged, light shining through moving water between the iPad surface and the text. When readers advance to the next page, the fish swims across into an illustration as the narration continues.

The background sounds are the ceaseless rushing of the ocean depths. Children who touch the screen to find an animation will discover that they can make ripples and splashing sounds while guiding a school of minnows about. This is exactly the right choice for this story. Many pages have several paragraphs (read aloud in a gentle, woman’s voice), and the interaction engages readers tactilely, helping them to focus.

As the action moves to the ocean’s surface, the undersea gurgling is replaced by the wash of ripples, the soughing of the wind and creaking of ships. This being the original story, there is no happy ending: The little mermaid becomes a “daughter of the air,” hoping to eventually win an immortal soul. Children accustomed to Disney blandness will find this quiet, subtle app a welcome introduction to a more sophisticated aesthetic. 

Parents Choice Awards

Auryn’s app presentation of Hans Christian Anderson’s version of The Little Mermaid is an elegant alternative to Disney’s rendition. The dreamlike illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger look beautiful on the iPad’s screen. There is minimal interactivity here, and that’s just fine. A subtle rippling water effect makes readers feel as though the iPad’s glass is the surface of a sea under which the Little Mermaid can be glimpsed. This and a calm reader make the Little Mermaid a perfect bedtime story.