Pros: Fun activities and stories for princess fans; Lots of contests
I recently read a suggestion by fellow Epinioner pvreditor to give a magazine subscription as a creative gift idea for a child. Not only is it a gift that keeps on giving, with new issues throughout the year, but it gives kids their own mail with their own name on it. I think this is something my seven and three year old daughters would really enjoy, so I've been looking at various kid magazines with them to see which one to subscribe to for each girl. So far, Disney's Princess Magazine has been enjoyed, but fell out of the running.
What's in each issue
Each issue of Disney's Princess Magazine is 32 pages, not including the cover or full-page insert in the middle to advertise the various kid magazines put out by publisher Redan. Included in those 32 pages are three mediocre stories featuring individual Disney princesses, such as Snow White, Ariel or Sleeping Beauty (Aurora). These stories vary in length from two to four pages and are told in two different formats. For example, the February 2010 issue has two stories told in storyboard format with fifteen panels, and the other story is a two page story about Cinderella written in four columns over a scene illustration from the story.
In between the stories there are a couple of fun craft activities for girls to do at home, such as making a ribbon bouquet with a paper plate (gotta prepare them early for bridal showers) and a sixteen page "workbook" with activities that are supposed to emphasize counting, writing, creativity, reading and cognitive skills. One activity I saw in this section was a type of maze for Ariel, where each seahorse she came upon is color-coded to tell her the direction she needs to go in to get to the end. I liked this one and think it is a great way to sharpen the mechanical side of kids' minds.
There is a princess centerfold in each issue, so girls can plaster their walls with princesses. If one per issue is not enough for your little princess, there is also a glossier "collectible" poster on the back page, usually of a different princess.
Every issue also has a contest to win something, such as princess bubble wands or a set of markers. The other side of the advertising insert I mentioned before is actually the "entry form," in which kids can rank their top three favorite princesses and draw one of them. If they send it in and their picture gets drawn by the editors, they can win a prize and/or their picture or drawing in the magazine.
Should your little princess get Disney's Princess?
For the most part, this is a cute little magazine for young girls. The pages are thick and colorful, and it's filled with Disney princesses, so what's not to like? In my household the problem is that the "intellectual" level of the magazine doesn't gel with my kids' age levels. The activities are great for my first grader, but she's pretty much over the princess thing. Yeah, she likes them, but they don't excite her the way they did when she was four. Now that Redan just started putting out a Tinker Bell magazine, my oldest is all over that one instead. The fairies of Pixie Hollow are a much better interest-level match for first graders in our area.
My middle child is almost four, and while she enjoys Disney princesses when they're on, she hasn't reached that obsession level yet. She likes looking at the magazine, but the only part of the "activity workbook" that isn't over her head is coloring. For her, I prefer Redan's Sparkle World magazine, which combines several girlie character lines (My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Puppy in my Pocket, etc.).
At $4.99 a pop, it definitely makes sense to get a subscription instead of buying individual issues of Disney's Princess Magazine. A one-year subscription of ten issues (monthly, with combos for May/June and November/December) costs $3.99 an issue and the two-year price is $2.99 an issue. Personally, I don't think it's worth it to pay $4.99, or even $3.99, for an issue. For the same price, I can get a children's paperback that will hold my kids' interest and stay together better.
If you are fairly confident that your little one will still be loving the princesses for a couple more years or if she has a younger sister who will soon be moving into the princess stage, it would be a good idea to get a two-year subscription, as the $2.99 price is decent for what you get. Otherwise, I recommend getting something a little more versatile.
This is my Magazine entry in wlswarts' race Around Epinions in 80 Days.