There was once an old storyteller whose library was full of the most beautiful books, some of them a bit worse for the wear only because they’d been so lovingly enjoyed by generations of young readers. But the old storyteller started to become worried — what was she to make of all the talk of ebooks and apps? Fearful she called three of the most familiar classics to her and said, “All of you are beloved by generations of children. No matter how they remake you, your stories stay true. And so I’m sending you three out to see what is out there in that new e-book and app world.”
The first that went off was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “I’ll have no problem finding a way to make my story relevant and appreciated by children today.” thought the little classic to herself. “After all, everyone knows my story.” Before she’d even gone more than a few steps she was stopped by an eager Ipad app developer who quickly outlined his idea. A bit dubious as he did seem to want to cut an awful lot, she decided to go for it. “After all,” she thought to herself. “Walt Disney and Tim Burton did some changing too and I still am here intact and appreciated.” The app came out, the reviews were glowing, and the little classic was just about to return to the old storyteller when an old blogger came along. “You don’t scare me!” she quavered.
The blogger simply glared at her and said, “Then I’ll blog, and I’ll blog, and I’ll blog your story away.” So she blogged
This app is full of bells and whistles, but what does it mean in terms of Lewis Carroll’s story? Does it add anything to it? Enhance it? Have a whole lot to do with it? I don’t think so.
The movement is fun (I do like the growing and shrinking especially), but I think it was done far better by Robert Sabuda in his actual physical pop-up book. His paper engineering seem to enhance and bring out the story in a way the app barely does. Rather, it seems ephemeral, something to be done a few times perhaps, but no more. And some of the actions aren’t that well-connected to the story itself. I mean, “Throw tarts at the Queen of Hearts”? I mean, yeah, there are tarts and there is a Queen, but this seems more like looking for action rather than thinking about it in terms of the story in any major way. Sabuda’s pop-up, on the other hand, does bring out the story in clever ways.
and blogged the app away.
Sorry, I’m still waiting for an app (and movie, for that matter) to do Carroll’s story justice.
The second little classic was Peter Rabbit. He was even more confident than the first little classic of success. “I’m everywhere. Babies, new parents, everyone loves me dearly.” And he was just about to hop into that lovely garden with the carrots when an app developer waylaid him at the gate. “You can see to it I get all the carrots I want? I’m in.” said the little classic. And so off the app developer went and soon returned with a lovely little app and the reviewers again were ecstatic. The second little classic was just about to head on back to the old storyteller when the first little classic came racing along.
“Watch out!” she called out. “The big bad blogger is after me!” And sure enough, huffing and puffing after her was indeed a blogger. The two of them clung to each other and the second little class said bravely, “You don’t scare me!”
The blogger stared at him for a moment and then said “Humph. I don’t care. In fact, I’m going to just blog and blog, till I blog your story away.” So she blogged
The Peter Rabbit app feels very similar to the Alice one. That is, it is pretty to look at and has movement, but doesn’t seem to do much to really bring out the story.
People tend to have this vague idea that Peter Rabbit is some sort of twee story when it is actually nothing of the kind. It can be seen as rather subversive, in fact, as are many of Beatrix Potter’s stories. And that is what makes it so much fun. And I also have to put in a plug for the lovely tiny little books themselves. There is something about handling them physically that is part of their charm. Seems besides the point in the app which is more about fun ways to play with a book app than the inherent nature of the book itself. I’m being churlish, I know, but …
And blogged the app away.
…I think the potential is big for books and stories and this isn’t it, yet.
The third little classic had gone no farther than down the lane when the first and second little classics ran up to him. “Watch out!” they yelled at him. “The big bad blogger is out to get us!” And sure enough, right in front of him was indeed that big ol’ blogger with an enormous frown and stance that suggested she was not happy at all. The first and second little classics shivered behind the third little classic as he stood and just stared silently back at the blogger.
Finally he spoke. “I’m not afraid of you. There have been a ton of apps about me already. It seems my story lends itself to digital storytelling better than my two friends here. And I actually think you may change your mind with this app.” And he tossed it at the blogger who grabbed it, studied it, and then went off. The three little classics looked at each other, waited, and waited some more before finally heading home.
As they walked in they were very surprised to find the blogger there first, sitting with the old storyteller and having tea. “Come, come,” the storyteller said to the three of them. ” I know, Alice and Peter, that our blogger-friend here didn’t much care for your apps, but I am so happy to say that she very much liked your latest, Little Pig. Isn’t that lovely?”
And the blogger settled in and blogged
I don’t claim to have seen many apps at all and, since I don’t yet own an Ipad (although I have access to one and do have an Iphone), figured I wasn’t going to review any of them. But due to a post I did on others who are doing reviews quite a few app creators got in touch with me including Nosy Crow.
Having read a bit about them already I was curious and so I took a look at their first children’s book app on my Iphone of The Three Little Pigs and was…
…totally charmed. The art is bright and engaging, the narration (by children) also compelling, and the way the app is set up simply encourages children to both read (I especially liked the way you could click on the different characters and get different little speech bubbles and speech each time) and play (make a character do a somersault, for instance). It is a contemporary version of the story, but that is totally fine — it works in just the right way. It is a book app in the sense that it will, I like to think, have kids do more than just move objects around (as I feel is somewhat the case with the Alice and Peter apps). I can see them enjoying this one over and over and over in a more substantive way than the first two apps mentioned. In fact, I am quite eager to see what Nosy Crow does next!
Given my very narrow background of having just seen a few apps so far and read about more of them, I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on book apps. Far from it. However, these three highly praised ones did give me a small taste of that ever-growing world. And I’m glad that Nosy Crow is on the right path. I look forward to what they and others do next.
blogged them a very happy ending.