We just released “Elfabits” in Demibooks Storytime. Published by Abracadizzy LLC, this Christmas themed alphabet app is a great stocking stuffer for the Holidays! Sabina Phillips writes on her creative process and experience with the Demibooks platform.
Everything begins with an idea. The initial concept of Elfabits was nothing more than silly wordplay (“elf” + “alphabet” = “elfabet”) but it was evident early on that a good idea had come along. We have three children ranging in ages from 2 to 9 and thought this would be a fun little book for them. That led to sketching out roughs for a full 26-letter set and compiling A-Z lists of Christmassy things, children’s names and gift items that could be used on the corresponding pages. The story and the whole process evolved into the tale we have today. Initially, Jared had only envisioned Elfabits in traditional book form but Sabina immediately recognized the potential it could have as an interactive story so we started looking at in a whole new light. And given Sabina’s background in technology, animation and mobile in general, the decision to produce an app was an easy one.
Jared Phillips is a master caricaturist and manager of FACE iT! Studios, a full-service art studio specializing in providing custom cartoon artwork and high-quality caricature entertainment throughout the New York/New Jersey metro area. His artwork has appeared in many forms of print and media – from comic books and newspapers to magazines and trading cards – and he has designed and illustrated everything from children’s stickers and storyboards for films to T-shirts and tattoos.
Sabina Phillips is a graphic designer, animator and illustrator with extensive interactive web and print media experience. Having worked for years as an art director for a wide variety of notable magazines, periodicals and trade publications, Sabina is now a senior designer at a major financial institution, and an integral part of the company’s User Experience team, where she manages many projects simultaneously and under deadline pressure. Her technical skills are comprehensive and include building interactive websites, proprietary desktop applications, intranets, internal wiki sites, mobile apps, flash demos, as well as logo design, identity branding and promotional collateral.
Goals for the App
Most alphabet books seem stale. They tend to be structured like flashcards with very few accompanying visuals. All too often the same tired subject matter (“A is for apple”) appears over and over in countless versions and very rarely is there ever a story that ties it all together. We think Elfabits is unique because it exposes children to a much greater selection of corresponding images than any alphabet books we’ve seen, and each of the images animates upon touch with audio. Also, Jared’s artwork is so interesting and original; you can read Elfabits over and over and spot something new each time that you didn’t notice before. But getting back to the animation, that’s something we know children will really love because our own kids absolutely love it, and so do their cousins and friends. When an illustration is pressed, that word within the story is simultaneously highlighted and the audio recording says the word aloud. Considering all the components of every page – the elf letter shapes, the gifts from Santa, the children’s names, the descriptive words – all of which begin with the same letter, it becomes apparent that Elfabits not only reinforces alphabet recognition skills, but also contributes to phonemic awareness by demonstrating how letters correspond to sounds, all while the child is having fun. This book was designed to be both educational and entertaining.
And the Elfabits themselves are impressive. Each letter is brought to life quite literally – with an assortment of silly, pointy-eared, jingle-belled characters bending and joining together with candy canes, toys, snowmen and other holiday props to form each typographic shape along the way. The lively rhyming narrative is humorous and witty. There are also some surprises. A number of the items that appear are unexpected… a few of which may never have appeared in any book anywhere!
We think Demibooks Composer is beyond comparison, there is really nothing like it out there. It’s a simple interface, very straight forward and was easy to use. We also love the fact that you can create right on the iPad. Elfabits was built partly on the train commuting to and from work, which was a great way to make the best use of that free time. It was extremely convenient to be able to work on the app practically anywhere.
Composer is very intuitive, has a good set of functions, its easy to add and remove images, audio, and behavior. We did not explore all the the features it has to offer. For instance we did not take advantage of the physics feature because we felt Elfabits didn’t need it, although we’ll certainly take advantage of it in future projects.
What can be improved is the text feature, it could be much more stable and flexible. It crashed a lot and was hard to edit, so we didn’t use it. Another wish would be to have the ability to build for other devices and not just the iPad. iPhone would be great. Long term vision could be a Demibooks suite of applications/products… for instance a desktop application which can build across all devices and brands. We hear that Composer Pro is coming out soon and are very excited to try it out!
Thanks to the Demibooks team for all your help in getting Elfabits into the marketplace. We look forward to more fun and innovation with Demibooks Composer.