childrens book apps
As many know by now, Olive’s Kickstarter campaign was very successful, exceeding the goal and allowing for additional features in the app. Many thanks to all who supported the project and a very special thanks to the corporate sponsors: Angling University, FlyFishMap.com, Redington, Orvis, Mill River Fly Rods, Fly Fusion Magazine, Peak Fishing, Montana Fly Company, Blue River Fly Company, and Al Ritt Flies.
Development is nearing completion for the book part of the app, which is a condensed version of the stories from Olive the Little Woolly Bugger and Olive and The Big Stream (books 1 and 2 of the 3 book series). In addition to the illustrations and story that have made the printed books popular, there are many additional features in the app that make it a more robust learning tool for young readers. For example, kids will be able to tap an object or a word and the definition will pop up. In this instance, the words “woolly bugger” are highlighted in the text. When tapped, this screen will load:
Another example is the word “trout”, which when tapped displays this screen:
Many of the illustrations have simple animations that play when the reader taps an “animate” button. Not all pages are animated as I didn’t want animations to become too distracting or gratuitous. The animations are very short and simply bring a little bit of added dimension to the reading experience. But kids will be kids, and no doubt they will want to play the animations over and over. I know I will.
I’ve really enjoyed creating the graphics for the app and it’s been a thrill seeing it take form through several beta versions. I guesstimated that I would spend about 80 hours on the app myself. I passed that mark a looong time ago. It has been much more work than I originally estimated, but it has really scratched my creative itch. I’ve gotten to wear many hats during the process: animator, illustrator, interface designer, etc. Working with the guys at The Pixel Rebel, the app developer, has been great. Their suggestions, expertise and enthusiasm has really helped the app take shape into something we’ll all be very proud of. Kudos to Jonathan Foos for his technical wizardry in being able to implement everything I’ve wanted to do. I hope I haven’t driven him crazy, yet 😉 We’ll see. The next phase of the app will be really cool once it’s completed and I can’t wait to see how it turns out…
A bonus feature in the app is a simple game called, Chuckin’ Bugs. It’s really just for fun although there are elements of real world fly fishing as a basis for the game. For example, the fish don’t always cooperate and there is always the threat of getting skunked! Kids love games, there’s no denying that. As an author and someone who worked in educational software development years ago, I really want to offer kids something with some substance. But when I got the idea for this game I just couldn’t help but indulge myself. Besides, if kids are going to be playing a game, it’s best that it be something that gets them thinking about fly fishing, right?!
If all goes as intended, the app will be completed within the next few weeks. After de-bugging (a term that seems oddly fitting) the app will be submitted for approval by the powers that be at Apple. Once that has been accomplished the app will be available on iTunes. At least that’s how I think the process will go. Once all is said and done, then comes the vastly important part of the app’s success: spreading the word.
You’re going to want to acquire an iPad if you don’t already have one.
In our modern, fast-paced world where mobile devices reign supreme, apps have become exceedingly popular. Unless you live under a rock you know that there are apps for just about everything imaginable, so the catch phrase, “there’s an app for that” isn’t really much of an exaggeration.
And soon, you’ll be able to say that about Olive, too.
Olive will be entering into the mobile world with an iPad app that will be a digital book featuring a condensed version of Olive the Little Woolly Bugger and Olive and The Big Stream. If your kids already gotten hooked on Olive’s print books, not to worry—this isn’t going to be just the stories translated to a digital medium. There will be interactive features so kids can learn about additional elements pertaining to the story. The text will scroll so that kids can read the story by themselves, or they’ll be able to switch on a mode whereby the story is narrated, with words high-lighted; a feature that will help early readers. There’ll also be some game play, including a fun little number called Chuckin’ Bugs.
A key point of the Olive books is to get kids interested in learning about fly fishing, and outside away from video games, cell phones and yes, iPads. So, you may be asking, ‘why jump on the bandwagon and become part of the nature-deficit problem?’ I don’t see this as becoming part of the problem at all, rather adopting the technology that kids (and everyone) have already embraced, and using it to communicate the value in getting outside. If kids are going to be sitting around playing with their iPads, they may as well play with something educational and entertaining that still encourages outdoor activity. There’s no app for actually going out and exploring a stream, turning over rocks to look at bugs, and wetting a line—but soon there will be an app that celebrates that.
By the way, if you’re a fly fishing company and would like to sponsor this app, I’m fielding inquiries.