In the Spotlight :: Tom Anderson of Blackfish Children’s Books

Jodi Murphy of Geek Club Books introduced me to Tom Anderson who heads up the app developer company:  Blackfish Children’s Books.  I was impressed with the platform that he and his brother have created and the quality of storybook apps they offer.  Their book engine allows the app user to choose the main story character, add customizations to make the story about yourself, and the ability to create choose-your-own-path adventures.  I know my daughter loves to create stories where she is part of the adventure.  The Blackfish Children’s Books offer this unique ability for your kids to not only be a part of the story but chose different main story characters.  I had a chance to speak to Tom about his company and their new project called The Great Illustrator Project.
What was the inspiration behind creating Blackfish Children’s Books?

Our former company was a video game company. After leaving that company, we decided to take over 20 years of combined expertise in video games and technology development and apply it to kids books, given how the market is transitioning so quickly to digital. We’ve spent a lot of time building a powerful book engine (in essence, really it is a game engine) that is the underlying technology for Blackfish Children’s Books. We have been porting books from a physical version into our interactive digital version.

What are some components of your apps that sets you apart from your competitors?

Our book engine is the most sophisticated book engine on the market. It is a cross platform engine that works with iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle Fire, PC, and Macs. Many of the books we’ve been making have great features such as interactive animations on every page, narration with word highlighting, and record your own narration. We’re the only company that has all the features we have that works on all the major hardware platforms. We also have some unique features such as having the ability to choose the main story character, add customizations to make the story about yourself, and the ability to create choose-your-own-path adventures.

How did the idea for The Great Illustrator Project come about? What are you most excited about with this project?

After we did all the work on our game engine, we realized that if we put a relatively small amount of effort to create a front end user interface, we could make a really powerful story-creator app, where people could make their own stories quickly and easily. In order to make a product like that the most valuable, though, you need to a large library of art people can use. At the same time we were starting to develop the Blackfish Story Creator, I came across a Linked In thread asking for illustrators to illustrate a children’s book. I was amazed at the response – hundreds of illustrators responded for a single posting. Not everyone had a great portfolio, but many of them did. I was amazed at the level of talent looking to do that work. Finally, I had been looking for a Kickstarter project I thought could be funded. The three concepts all came together, and we created the Great Illustrator Project.

Any news you want to share with Penelope’s mates?

We have reached our minimum funding on The Great Illustrator Project. That said, the main thing we are trying to accomplish in the project is to hit our Stretch Goals. I think people don’t realize how powerful the project can become. The bigger the project gets, the more valuable everyone’s pledge becomes. If we raise $5k, then a $25 pledge will allow you to use $2500 of art. If we raise $100k, though, then a $25 pledge will let you use $50k of art. The project can become really exciting if we are able to get some momentum and grow it!




Thank you Tom!  And mates be sure to stop by our  Blackfish Children’s Book Facebook Party this Tuesday the 2st at 5pm PST for some trivia, fun and loads of goodies!  We will be talking to Tom more about The Great Illustrators Project as well as providing some very cool items to participants unique to the project!

You can read more about the party here:


To Learn More About The Great Illustrators Project check out the Kickstarter Video and see what the Rafflecopter $100 Pledge is all about:

You can read more about Blackfish Children’s Books here:

Facebook event page


And good news!  Tom is offering all of the Blackfish Children’s Storybooks (9 total) to one lucky mate PLUS a $100 pledge that goes towards The Great Illustrators Project!  Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My favorite illustrator would have to be Theodore Geissel, the infamous Dr. Seuss! :-)

  2. Jackie Bryla says:

    Such an awesome project doesn’t even come close to how AWESOME this will be!

  3. Jackie Bryla says:

    I love Jan Brett’s illustrations :)

  4. Erin C. says:

    Too many to have to pick just one. I’ve always loved Richard Scarry. Clement Hurd is amazing too!

  5. Aida Sofia is turning out to be one my daughter LOVES! She may be bias since she won naming the Queen Bee (Julia Dweck books) and had a bee image of her drawn however I can see her illustrations are fun bright/colorful and all around adorable – we’re also enjoying Bob Ostrom as well (Where Are The Dinos and more) :-) and like others too many to list/name :-) Thanks for the awesome giveaway and two thumbs up and a snap for such a wonderful project!

  6. Dianne Saunders says:

    Too many to choose just one! Love Dr. Seuss, Jan Brett, Richard Scarry to name a few.

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