Showing posts with label Cybils 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cybils 2013. Show all posts

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wee You-Things, a fun book app with great positive spirit (ages 3-6)

Each of us is special. Everyone contributes their own unique gifts to the group. Celebrate our individuality. These are all values I try to share with my own children and my students. Normally, I don't like "message books", but I have to say that Wee You-Things shares its message in such a joyful, kid-friendly way that it brings kids back to it again and again.
Wee You-Things
developed by Wee Society
2013 Cybils Book App Finalist
ages 3-6
iTunes
In Wee You-Things, a colorful parade of friends celebrates their own special quirks. Ruth has a purple tooth, Royce has a tiny voice and Lamar has a crooked scar a la Harry Potter. Thoroughly silly, these monsters will bring certainly keep preschoolers giggling. As the story says, "You-Things mean that no one in the world is the same."
Every picture is cleverly animated to show off the special You-Things. The bold, colorful patterns, sound effects and rhyming prose are spot on. Some are silly and fanciful, and might be more likely to lead to teasing -- like Brad having two dads. I just love how it includes all sorts of differences.

At the end kids get a chance to create their own You to join the parade of friends. It's a perfect way to let kids know looking or sounding different is okay and these "you things" are what make you special.

If you like Todd Parr's books celebrating diversity, you'll love Wee You-Things. It would make a great addition to a home, preschool or library story time.

The review copy of this app was provided by the developer, as part of the Cybils awards process. The Cybils winners will be announced on February 14th. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, January 9, 2014

To This Day, by Shane Koyczan -- powerful book app for teens (12-18)


Intense. Gripping. You could hear a pin drop.

Those aren't words you typically hear when kids describe book apps, a medium known more for its flashy interactive elements. But that's exactly how they react to the powerful spoken word poem To This Day, by Shane Koyczan, that's been turned into an amazing app. If you have a teen, definitely share this with them.
To This Day
written by Shane Koyczan
developed by Moving Tales, Inc.
2013 Cybils Book Apps finalist
ages 12-18
iTunes
Shane Koyczan
In To This Day, Koyczan writes of his experience dealing with violence, bullying and harassment in school in a searingly honest way. The app takes Koyczan's performance and adds animation and artwork created by multiple artists, making the anti-bullying message even stronger.

At first I wondered whether the app provided a different experience than watching the video. Only after reading, listening and watching the app a few times did I realize the true extent of the differences. Every time you open the app, different animated clips run with the individual stanzas of the poem. This keeps the reader engaged, thinking about how the artwork develops and extends the meaning of the words.


The animations, crowd-sourced from over 80 different artists, resonate with the material because they communicate the sense that people of all stripes and hues experience problems of bullying. The variety of the illustrations helps take Koyczan's very personal poem and make the message more universal on a visual and visceral level.


Koyczan makes sure readers know that words can hurt more than sticks and stones, but that in the end we all must walk the balancing act in our lives, believing in our own beauty.
“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.” says poet Shane Koyczan. “I wrote To This Day, a spoken word poem, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.”
I also love sharing this poem in a book app format because it allows the reader to experience Koyczan's powerful performance, but to bring some of the reading qualities to it. On the app, you can easily reread a stanza if you want it to sink in a bit more. If you're watching the video, you lose control of the pacing and let the poem wash over and sink in.

Please, please -- find a quiet moment. Listen and read this poem yourself. Think about how it resonates with your experiences, or friends you know. And then find someone else to share it with.

To This Day is a finalist in the 2013 Cybils Book Apps Award. The final winner will be announced February 14th. The review copy came from my personal library. But since this is currently free, I strongly believe this is a must-have app for all teens and anyone who's survived high school.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

MirrorWorld app, by Cornelia Funke: exploring a fantasy world with transmedia (ages 10 - 16)


I've long been fascinated by the way authors use different types of media to tell stories, whether it's the written word, audiobooks, films or plays. So it's natural that I've been drawn to apps that combine multimedia approaches to tell stories. But I've been truly amazed by MirrorWorld, an app written by best-selling fantasy author Cornelia Funke to build and extend a fantasy world from her new series of novels. This app is a wonderful example of transmedia storytelling, where authors use a variety of media to tell different aspects of the story.
MirrorWorld
written by Cornelia Funke
developed by Mirada Studios
2013 Cybils Book Apps finalist
ages 10 - 16
iTunes App Store
The first thing you'll notice about MirrorWorld is the way it invites you to explore the fantasy world from Reckless and Fearless in a nonlinear way. Once you push through the mirror, you find yourself in the Ogre's Tavern. It's a bizarre place, with a severed arm wrapped in chains, a witch's brew, a treasure hunter's gold coins, and more. Wander through the tavern and choose what you want to read, or use the table of contents to read and watch in a more organized fashion.

These sixteen short independent chapters expand Funke’s fantasy world with original content, seamless integrating beautiful illustrations, audio narration, music, and animation. Whether documenting animated fencing instructions or telling how Jacob Reckless first met the treasure hunter Albert Chanute, this app is both an intriguing introduction for those new to the world and exciting backstory for fans who want more. Check out this trailer for a sense of the app:



MirrorWorld’s art direction is perfectly on tone with the dark and beautiful content. The art is at once sophisticated and simple, never overpowering the story. In "A Bad Substitute Father", readers can either "view the spectacle" and watch a shadow play while listening to Funke read the chapter aloud, or they can read the story themselves. This reinforces the book qualities of this app, while exploring the multimedia opportunities presented by the iPad's interactive features to let readers explore this world.

This app truly grows the reader's sense of this fantasy world, instead of defining it the way so many movies do. Funke and Mirada help readers discover the way they like to imagine this world, whether it's through a shadow play, a narrated story, or a picture book fairy tale. Funke's writing is beautiful, and her narration is lyrical. I really felt like I was glimpsing into her imagination.

I must say that I have not read the MirrorWorld novels, though I am now drawn to them. That's the fascinating thing about transmedia -- each element can be enjoyed independently or as part of a whole.

For a fuller discussion of transmedia, check out this post by Sarah Towle: Transmedia and Crossmedia -- One and the Same?

The review copy of this app was provided by the developer, as part of the Cybils awards process. The Cybils winners will be announced on February 14th. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Disney Animated: amazing multimedia nonfiction book app (ages 9 and up)

Disney's animated movies have enchanted families for generations. Now, this richly layered multimedia book app takes readers behind the scenes to see all the different aspects that go into creating animated feature films.

Disney Animated
developed by Disney / Touch Press
2013 Cybils Book App finalist
Apple's iPad App of the Year for 2013
ages 9 and up
iTunes App Store
Read about the original development of animation, watch Walt Disney talk about where story ideas come from, zoom in to look at a detailed storyboard from 101 Dalmatians drawn by legendary illustrator Bill Peet. Readers can zoom into look at the detailed drawings and captions, to see how the artists envisioned the story as it developed.

Storyboard for 101 Dalmatians, from Disney Animated

It's absolutely fascinating peeling back the layers of classic animated as well as computer generated (CG) films, seeing how a scene develops from the initial story sketch to rough drawings or computer models, to final colored animation. With the scene from Chicken Little, you can see how the animators matched the drawings to the recorded dialog.

clip from Chicken Little, showing CG animation process
Picture boards for the Wreck-It Ralph characters in the Sugar Rush game show the visual inspirations, including pictures of marble cake swirls and butterscotch candies. Interactive elements let readers stop animated clips, progressing frame by frame, swipe through a timeline with every Walt Disney Animation Studio feature film, and manipulate Vanellope, a CG character from Wreck-It Ralph. A book could never let readers see these animated layers in action!

This book app lets readers progress at their own pace, diving into sections they're interested in. It's a perfect blend of book, animation and interactive features, all designed to help readers explore the many facets of animation.

Yes, this app builds on the appeal of Disney movies. Yes, it starts out with that sweeping music and view of the Magic Kingdom. But from the first page, it's brings you into discovering the art and technique that goes into making these movies. Every time I read it, I'm amazed at the ingenuity of Disney and his colleagues as well as the collaborative effort that animated films require.

For an in-depth look at this app, check out this video review by the Children's Technology Review. CTR is one of the journals I subscribe to for excellent assessment of apps and games for kids.



The Cybils winners will be announced on February 14th. The review code was provided by Disney Studios as part of the Cybils process. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Endless Alphabet: fresh & fun book app! (ages 3-7)

Cybils book app finalist Endless Alphabet combines all the great features of picture book apps: interesting content, fun animation, clear narration, and engaging interactive features -- all designed with the kid audience in mind. The result is a real winner for young kids, an app that they'll choose to go back to again and again!
Endless Alphabet
developed by Originator
2013 Cybils finalist
iTunes or Google Play
ages 3 - 7
Combining unique words with clever illustrations, adding silly animated monsters and unforgettable sounds, Endless Alphabet is a book app kids will return to again and again. Filled with words ranging from alarm to hilarious to musician, this is no ordinary alphabet book.

Endless Alphabet

Readers start by dragging letters to spell out the word, reinforcing simple letter-sound associations. Then, they hear how to pronounce the word, learn the meaning of the word, and watch a short, very silly enactment of the word. This fun trailer will give you a sense of the app:



Developed by the same team that brought us Sesame Street's Monster at the End of This Book app, Endless Alphabet is perfectly designed for its age group. Kids can choose whether to move from word to word or to repeat a word as many times as they choose. The app draws kids in at each step, but all the interactive features build on the primary focus of learning vocabulary and letter awareness.

If you like this, you'll also enjoy Originator's newest app: Endless Reader, designed to help kids acquire sight words essential to early reading.

Check out all the 2013 Cybils finalists in the book apps category! Many thanks to Paula Willey of PinkMe for nominating this delightful, wacky must-have app!

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Announcing the Cybils Awards: Book Apps and more!

I am super-excited to announce the finalists in the Cybils Book App award. This week, I'll be sharing more about each of these apps. These book apps combine the best literary and technical qualities with big kid appeal. They draw children and teens back to them again and again, engaging kids in different ways with each reading.
Disney Animated
written by Disney
developed by Touch Press
iTunes
Disney Animated is a richly layered multimedia book app that takes readers behind the scenes to see all the different aspects that go into creating animated feature films. It's a combination of movie magic, coffee table book, and museum visit rolled into one.
Endless Alphabet
written and developed by Originator, Inc.
iTunes or Google Play
Endless Alphabet is a superb, interactive, picture dictionary app for kids from preschool through early grade school. Combining unique words with clever illustrations and animation, adding silly monsters and unforgettable sounds
MirrorWorld
written by Cornelia Funke
developed by Mirada Studios
iTunes
MirrorWorld is a companion app to Cornelia Funke’s fantasy novels Reckless and Fearless. Whether documenting animated fencing instructions or telling how Jacob Reckless first met the treasure hunter Albert Chanute, this app is both an intriguing introduction for those new to the world and exciting backstory for fans who want more.
To This Day
written by Shane Koyczan
developed by Moving Tales, Inc.
iTunes
Shane Koyczan's spoken word poem To This Day shares his experience dealing with violence, bullying and harassment in school in a searingly honest way. The app takes Koyczan's live performance and adds animation and artwork created by multiple artists, making the anti-bullying message even stronger.
Wee You-Things
written and developed by Wee Society LLC
iTunes
Wee You-Things is joyful celebration of what makes each of us unique. This charming book app simply introduces a colorful parade of friends each with his or her own quirk, but in doing so it conveys a message we all need to hear.

Over the last two months, a team of five bloggers has been diligently reading and evaluating nearly 70 nominated book apps. We bring to our task a wide range of experiences: teachers, parents, librarians. We have noticed the app market is certainly developing; we read many excellent apps, and our final decisions were difficult, indeed. We considered the quality of writing, illustration, narration and interactive design. Each needs to contribute in order to draw kids into these multimedia reading experiences.

Head over to the Cybils Awards to check out all the finalists, from books for early readers to young adult fiction. I love the way these awards celebrate the best of children's literature with a real sense of what appeals to kids. Each year, I seek out these books to share with my own students and they are big hits.

Enjoy exploring all these new book apps. I will be delving into more depth on these apps throughout the next week.

Many thanks to the Cybils book app team: Jen Vincent, Aaron Maurer, Jill Goodman and Jackie Parker. You each brought so much to our discussions.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Friday, October 25, 2013

Midnight Feast: an eerily creepy book app from Slap Happy Larry (ages 9 - 14)

Creepy stories are in high demand in our library, and engaging book apps for older readers are a real treat. I loved reading Slap Happy Larry's Midnight Feast this week - perfect for tweens and teens looking for a spooky tale.
Midnight Feast
by Lynley Stace
developed by Slap Happy Larry
available on
iTune App Store
nominated for Cybils 2013
ages 9 - 14
Roya lives in a world where her dreams blend with reality, and hunger is a constant part of life. She yearns for so much -- to be part of the adult world, to be part of her dream world. This story captures that yearning and longing that can be such a part of adolescence.

In the beginning, Roya struggles falling to sleep. "It's not that she was scared of the dark, exactly. Things were slightly more complicated than that." The artwork, narration and music create a sleepy, melancholy mood, but one that right away hints at something darker to come. If you select the option "Scary Sauce," dark haunting hands reach out from under the bed.


Stace develops this blend between worlds so you're never sure whether what she's seeing is solidly true or part of her active imagination. The interactive elements are layered enough to allow the story to shine through, but also to draw the reader back for repeated readings. At times, Roya's imaginary world literally interprets common sayings (her parents actually laugh their heads off), while at others she drifts into a surreal dream state.

When a black cat suggests to her that "Midnight's no place for a girl," Roya wonders, "Is midnight a place?" Roya begins dreaming of a midnight place, where there is dancing, revelry, and -- of course, a Midnight Feast. I love the way that Roya's dreams combine surreal elements--cats wearing fancy dress clothes--along with colorful dreamscapes that take her away from her dreary world.


I wholly agree with the Kirkus Review of Midnight Feast:
The sum of striking visuals, smartly restrained audio cues, subtle voice acting, unobtrusive narration and navigation, and always-relevant iPad interactive elements is more resonant than overwhelming. Younger readers may be confused and spooked by some of the story’s content; there’s an option to eliminate the “scary sauce” in the story (cleverly represented by a ketchup bottle).

Beautiful, haunting and completely original, Roya’s tale is a 12-course meal of intelligent storytelling.
Teens might be interested in reading this and comparing it with the bookapp rendition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell Tale Heart. For teachers interested in experimenting with a layered, multimedia book app, definitely check out Slap Happy Larry's reading guide and activities.

The review copy came from our home app collection.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The CYBILS are coming!!

I'm very excited for the start of the CYBILS Awards this week. Anyone may nominate a book they think is an excellent book for children and young adults. So start thinking -- what would you nominate?
Nominations start Tuesday, October 1st and wrap up on October 15th. Yes, you really should nominate a book!! Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Each person can nominate one book in each category
  • Books must have been published between October 16, 2012 and October 15, 2013
  • For apps, this means they must have been originally released during this time frame
  • Book apps must be available on the iTunes App Store
  • Books must be specifically published for children and young adults

I'm especially excited to be leading the Book Apps category again. Please nominate apps that you think are great reading experiences for children and young adults. Here are some apps I'm particularly excited about. I have not read all of them, but these have all been published this past year and have piqued my interest:
Check out the Cybils FAQ for more guidelines. The description of the Book App Category can give you more information as well.

Once again: NOMINATIONS run from OCTOBER 1st-15th. You should definitely nominate your favorite books that were published in the last year. Head to the CYBILS site to find out more information.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cybils 2013: Looking for Volunteer Judges


Do you blog about children’s books on a regular basis? The Cybils are back and the call for judges is going on right now! You have until August 31, 2013 to apply.

The Cybils awards are given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles. These awards “reward the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators, let’s not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and ‘kid appeal.’”

Volunteer judges are needed for several different genre of children’s books, including iPad book apps. As you may know, I have been especially interested in how iPad book apps combine elements of print books, audiobooks and interactive websites. I helped launch the Cybils Book Apps award and am returning as the chair of the Book Apps committee.

Are you interested in book apps for children? Do you contribute to a blog on a regular basis or write your own blog? If so, you should definitely consider applying to be a Cybils judge. In order to be on the book apps committee, you’ll need access to an iPad with regular wi-fi access to download books.

The nominated book apps are evaluated by a first round of 5-7 panelists from October through December. At the end of December, these panelists decide on the finalist books, the top 5-7 titles of the year. The second round of panelists then have to pick one winner from this short list. 

Being a Cybils judge is a wonderful opportunity to meet others interested in children’s books and to read some of the top books in the industry. Hope to see you there.

For more information check out these links:
©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books