I was certain that book apps were my enemy, the enemy of books in general, and quite possibly of all civilization. But when an educational app producer asked me if I’d consider turning my picture book THE TROUBLE WITH CAULIFLOWER into an app, I surprised myself by being uncharacteristically open-minded. After all, the book had–tragically–after warm critical reviews and solid sales leading to a second printing–gone out of print. So except for some stores selling it on consignment or sales in conjunction with author appearances, new readers would not get a chance to buy the book. A book app would grant a second life to my story about a koala bear who thinks that eating cauliflower gives him bad luck!
The developer gave me full creative control…it was fun to make suggestions for visual and sound effects on each page. Recording the voices was a family project: I was the narrator, my husband, Al, gave a Grammy-worthy performance as Mortimer the Koala bear, and our daughter, Becky, is spot-on as Mortimer’s wise, gentle friend, Sadie the Ostrich.
I realized that it was in my power to make sure that the bells and whistles don’t overpower or distract from my original story. The story progresses in a linear fashion, just as the book does, reinforcing reading skills. We even decided to position the find-places-to-tap instructions at the end of the app so that a child will hear the story the first time through without animations and sounds, and afterwards go back to find the special effects. (In a future post I’ll report on my espionage efforts to find out if my noble intentions are actually working with kids.)
I’m happy with the final product, well, thrilled is more like it. I’m grateful to my husband and daughter for joining the project, to Jim Harris–the illustrator–for allowing us to use his wonderfully detailed, appealing art from the original book–and to Kids and Beyond for ushering me into the world of apps, doing such a beautiful job on the project and for showing me that apps are not my enemy after all, but an extension of and variation on experiencing the book. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-trouble-with-cauliflower/id644476146?mt=8
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