The following post is authored by guest blogger Anna Grossnickle Hines, children’s author and illustrator. Watch for her forthcoming book app, Not Without Bear.
I am amazed at the things I’ve been able to do in my Not Without Bear app using Demibooks Composer. When we decided to form appropo, our family company to make picture book apps, I thought I’d mostly be providing stories and art. I might learn some simple programming–add narration, page turns, a simple movement or two–leaving the fancy stuff to my techie son-in-laws.
But as soon as I got my hands on Composer I knew I’d be doing more. I’d create one action, then ask, “but what if it …” In the original pop-up book, Audrey’s arm swivels and Bear’s head peeks up from behind Daddy. For the app I could make Audrey’s arm lift Bear much higher. But why just move her arm? Audrey could rotate a bit, too, as if she were bouncing on Daddy’s back. And wouldn’t it be funny if Bear knocked Daddy’s hat over his eyes?
This picture show’s the “workbench” with the image library menu open.
All of the images I’ve created for the book–over 200 at this point–are ready to be selected and imported into the appropriate pages. Then I place them and assign behaviors. To get things to happen in the right order sometimes requires transparent senders that get turned on or off by other behaviors. When the page opens the first two lines of narration are read. Until then touching Audrey doesn’t do anything. But when the narration ends, a sender “Audrey” gets turned on that, when touched, causes the action and triggers the line “but not without Bear.”
Because it is fun to repeat Audrey’s motion of rocking and lifting Bear up and down, but tiresome to hear the line “but not without Bear” over and over, I’ve used senders so that line only occurs once. After that she says “giddy-up” and giggles. Daddy’s hat gets replaced with a “yeehaw.”
This is one of my grandchildren’s favorite pages. Here you can see part of the list of behaviors on the page, 34 of them!
Twenty of those make each individual word highlight momentarily as the word is spoken, which in itself is four parts: show highlight, play audio, wait, and hide highlight. That part can get a little tedious, but worth it when I watch my seven-year-old granddaughter touching them over and over.
This is the way the page opens: after narration ends, touch the bed and Audrey peaks out, again and she pops up, and those toys go flying all over the room.
The above page was done with the magic of physics, a feature of Composer. The toys can be pushed and bounced off one another. My husband has created fun sounds for each object, so each time they bounce they trigger a noise.
Even though my grandchildren, age 10 and 7, are a bit older than the intended audience, it was gratifying to see how much time they spent playing with the pages of this app. The sounds and motion really help bring the story to life.
My goal and the goal of my company appropo, is to create apps that are as much fun for kids to play with as they are for us to create. My thanks to Demibooks for helping me do that with Not Without Bear (available soon …).