Guest Post :: Michelle Anaya Talks Storybook Apps

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    Becoming a published author had always been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I wrote in journals, jotted ideas on post its, scribbled and doodled in sketch books but my partial stories and ideas never went beyond that. My blog was the first in many steps taken to becoming a more disciplined writer. About two years ago I decided to stop treating my writing as a hobby and there was no turning back.   First I did lots of research, bought books on writing and joined the online writing group CBI clubhouse. Learning best practices and getting valuable insight from published authors and industry experts was extremely helpful for laying the groundwork before get ting started. The only negative surprise was learning that my prospects of getting published were similar to those of winning the lottery. I forged ahead anyway with the writing and … [Read more...]

App of the Week :: Grendel’s Great Escape

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    We are excited to be reviewing Michelle Anaya's newly updated Grendel's Great Escape storybook app as we are big fans of her newest storybook app release Monster's Jam!  Grendel's Great Escape opens up with a picture of a young boy walking to school with his backpack on and a ferret sitting on top of it smiling at us.  We had the option to either Read it Ourselves or Have it Read to Us.  I usually like to start off with having it read to us so I can hear the narrator and how well they do with the storytelling.  I like Melissa Reizian Frank voice and she does a good job narrating the story.  We see Martin jumping out of bed (on the second alarm ring) and is looking to find his favorite monster Tee.  We are told to move the clothes around to help him find what he is looking for.  I can see why  this is his favorite T-shirt - it would probably be my daughter's as well.  … [Read more...]

Oceanhouse Media Little Critter Collection #2 Giveaway

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We are big fans of the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer.   Although it's not specified what species the Little Critter is, he resembles a small and furry mammal such as a porcupine, hedgehog, hamster, or guinea pig according to Wikipedia.  I read about Mercer Mayer and the journey he took to become the famed author and illustrator that he is today.  It is quite interesting and you should check out his website sometime. Maybe we can persuade him to do an interview with us - will keep you posted! You can read more about him here: http://www.littlecritter.com/about_mercer_mayer2.html Oceanhouse Media Giveaway: Mercer Mayer fans will be excited to learn that Oceanhouse Media latest digital book app is Little Critter Collection #2, featuring 10 popular Little Critter stories that lovingly address all the major issues of growing up.   Offered for the special … [Read more...]

App of the Week: Henrietta is hungry

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  PicPocket Books has recently released storybook app Henrietta is Hungry written by Nina Lim and illustrated by Terence Gomez.  My daughter and I really enjoyed this fun story about Henrietta who loves to eat and takes us on a journey of foods around the world.  She loves to try new foods such as tiny fried spring rolls in Thailand (yum) and squidgy soft snails in France (hmmm) and even huge bags of haggis in Scotland!  Nina Lim uses exciting language such as scrumptious and stupendous when describing what types of food little Henrietta wants to try.  She is looking for the most scrumptious and stupendous dish she can find! So she began her journey to find the best and most stupendous foods around.  I love the illustrations by Terence Gomez - especially the page of Henrietta sialing in her little bonnet hat in her red boat.  The animations are simple but add dimension to the … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight: Illustrator Paul Johnson of Penelope the Purple Pirate

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    It seems like yesterday when Paul and I spoke for the first time about the possibility of working together on a story I had written about an adventurous little redhead. My father-in-law knew Paul's wife, Maria, from work and had put me in touch with him as he knew I was looking for an illustrator for a story I wrote called Penelope the Purple Pirate.  Paul was a recent transplant from England and told me he had always wanted to illustrate a children's book.  It took us a few tries to get Penelope "just right" but it sure was a fun journey watching Paul bring Penelope and her friends to life.  Every time he would send me a new illustration I would just smile from ear to ear as it was my dream to create a children's book as well! This month we are celebrating Penelope's 2nd birthday as she was released as a storybook app through PicPocket Books January 2011. I remember … [Read more...]

Disney Pixar UP: My Name is Dug Review and Giveaway

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Disney Pixar's movie UP was one of my favorite movies the year it came out.  I loved the whole story and Ellie reminded me a bit of my adventurous daughter - with the crazy red hair and all!  And what isn't to like about Dug, the silly dog who wants to help his master any way possible.  Dug reminds me of our dog as he is a tad goofy like him! So it was with some excitement to hear that Disney Pixar released a fun app called UP: My Name Is Dug.  The story was written by Kiki Thorpe and illustrated by Ronnie del Carmen.  I like that the illustrations are hand-drawn and you can see the similarity with the movie but it is done in such a way that you feel you are reading a real picture book that is not filled with too many distracting animations.  We start off with Dug sitting down looking at you wagging his tail and sticking his tongue out in eager anticipation of what iss to come.  And … [Read more...]

Wreck-It Ralph Storybook App Giveaway

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  We are so excited to see the new film Wreck-It Ralph by Disney this weekend!  It premiered today and we expect a lot of excitement around this fun movie.  In light of the new movie, Disney has released two new apps Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe and Hero's Duty Interactive Comic - which is a prequel to the upcoming new movie.  Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe showcases our favorite characters, Ralph, Felix, Vanellope and others as we follow Ralph as he wrecks his way through the arcade.  He is searching for a hero's medal and finds much more along the way.  Some of the features include exciting interactive games and the option to build your own candy cart which we really enjoyed doing.  You even get to ride your candy cart in the appropriately named "Sugar Rush."  The characters voices are from the original movie and feature  John C. … [Read more...]

App of the Week: Piccadilly’s Circus

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It's storybook apps like Piccadilly's Circus by Developer Ink Robin that my job of reviewing apps fun!  I absolutely loved this story that is about one of my favorite subjects - the circus.  Mr. Piccadilly is the ringmaster of the circus troupe that includes a lion, bear, acrobats, tigers, etc.  One day, Mr. Piccadilly wasn't feeling well and he couldn't perform so they had to do the show without him.  Each of the animals and performers wanted to have this important job of being the ringmaster but who should do the job for the night?  Each person thought they should be the ringmaster and showed why their job was the hardest of the bunch.  For example, the dancing bear on the striped ball announces to all listening that HIS job was the most difficult! The illustrations are so wonderful and really add to this fun story! There are several quite silly pages where I am sure you will … [Read more...]

Guest Post by Pavel Mamaev of Elfishki

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This week we have a guest post by Pavel Mamaev of Elka Palka Production, LLC., based out of Los Angeles, California.  They have created such apps as Elfishki and The Giant Cake and Elfishki and The Unwelcome Guest.  Mr. Mamaev writes about why he decided to get into the business of developing apps and what other developers should be focusing on when creating new storybook apps.  “Books just can’t beat iPads,” my 7-years-old son Gabriel told me. “Who wants a plain old book when there are iPad games, anyway?” It is really difficult to explain to a 2nd grader why he has to read books. For interesting stories? Here they are, in cartoons on TV. For information? Well, kids of that age are smart enough to reply with “I can use the Internet for that, Dad.”  But how do you explain to a 2nd grader that without regular practice of his reading skills he would never become a full-fledged … [Read more...]

App of the Week: Henry! You’re Late Again!

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    It is so fitting that I am reviewing this  storybook app today as we were late getting to kindergarten!  Usually we are right on time but some days don't always work out that way. And today was one of them! Henry! You're Late Again by ZebraMinds and written by Mary Evanson Bleckwehl and illustrated by Brian Barber touches on a subject that most of us have experienced in our lifetime. Some more than others but I won't name names! The story starts out with the option of turning on/off the narration and music. I always enjoy this feature as sometimes my daughter likes to have the narration and sometimes she likes me to read the story. There is also a choice of having Henry (the main character) read or Mary, the author read the story. They also have an About button that pulls up a picture of the author and illustrator. This is quite nice for a child to see firsthand who … [Read more...]