The Musings, Notes & Book/App reviews of a Children's Writer

Posts tagged ‘family’

Spooktacular-ish Book Apps

Boo! It’s that time of year when all things ghosts, goblins, monsters and mystery take center stage to celebrate Halloween!

Add to your kids’ spooky fun with these terrific stories from the The Book App Alliance Halloween Treats reading list!

October Book Apps – Halloween Treats.

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October’s Picture book of the Month

october_breast_cancer_month_flyer-r7f4e4afc60784273aa0410a4b9688885_vgvyf_8byvr_512October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and most of us know someone who’s been affected by this disease.  It impacts the entire family as many of the women battling this disease also have children who are  coping and fighting alongside them.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matthies and illustrated by Kristi Valiant brooches this subject that is often difficult to discuss with young children.

 

 

cancer garden front

This picture book is sensitively and lovingly written by an Author who is also a cancer survivor.

The beautiful illustrations shines a light and an air of positivity that  is uplifting in what could have been a sad book.

“Things don’t always go as expected” is the theme throughout the story. It walks us through the announcement of a mother with cancer, the stages of her treatment, the emotions involved and the way in which her family handles it.

As an avid gardener, I loved the co-relation between the various stages of cancer and the seasons of their garden. This book is more realistic and uplifting than sad, it’s about a family doing something positive together while in the midst of a tough situation.

Reading this will help children understand more about cancer but can also help children of families facing other devastating illnesses as well. I was cheering the family on from start to finish, and without giving it away I can say that I was thrilled to discover that there was indeed a happy ending.

cancer garden back

 Summary 

One winter day, Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has cancer. Soon the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions.

“Is Mom better yet?” Jeffrey asks.”Not yet,” the doctor says. “Not yet,” the doctor says, “But we’re working very hard to make her better – probably by pumpkin time.”

That gives Janie an idea: to plant a vegetable garden.

As the garden grows, Moms treatment progresses, and when it’s all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a recovering mom!

Sept book of the month: The survival guide for kids with ADD or ADHD

School’s back in session and my volunteer duties at the school have resumed. Now that I’m back in the library it’s the perfect time to resume the book of the month posts.

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It’s ADHD awareness month so it’s only fitting that September’s book of the month is “Drumroll please”

The survival guide for kids with ADD or ADHD by John F. Taylor, Ph.D.

While stacking books in the library, this book caught my eye. It’s red binding literally pops out amongst the other books and boy was it a great find.

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This survival guide is a must read for kids, it’s interesting and written in a way that will make sense to any age group. I borrowed it from the library to gain insight into my sons world and to coax him to reading it. It’s full of great advice including being upfront and descriptive with your doctor when asked if a particular course of treatment is effective or not.

How to take responsibility and dealing with the ramifications of your actions. Learning how to compromise with the other family members and positive ways of dealing with situations. It teaches without preaching and has too many AHA moments to count.

This gem not only benefits the child with ADHD but it helps bring the other siblings and adults in the household into their world as well. Understanding is half the battle so if you have or know someone with ADHD, then this book is the one to read.

My other post at Midlife mum on Living with my ADHD child is worth the read.

The Grendel’s Great Escape children’s digital story is an adventure for all kids inspired by an ADHD child.

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A visit with the Author Jonathan Ayre

Welcome to the first of the Interview Series where I’ll be picking the brains of some of the most creative people in the KidLit world.

I’ve recently discovered the Hatty the Tiger brand which has two amazing picture books and a book app. The stories are beautifully told with great messages such as good eating habits, strength of character and being different.

I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan Ayre.  Jonathan is the writer, illustrator and creator of this unique brand. The theme song “The Hatty Rap” is catchy and my son and  I absolutely love it. I’m sure your kids will love to see the  Hatty Rap video.

THE TIGER WHO WASN'T! COVER

HATTY & THE HARD BEANS! coverThe Tiger That Wasn't

App Store link   Android version on GOOGLE Play

Here’s what Jonathan had to share…..

Q: Tell us about yourself and the Hatty brand?

Jonathan: I’ve been a writer for most of my life through short stories, songs, screenplays and magazine articles, and my books about Hatty the tiger, grew out of stories I made up for my own young children. They’re six years-old now, and although as a family we are not vegetarians, they’ve grown up enjoying lots of different fruits and vegetables and I realize how lucky we are with this. Hatty became a vegetarian tiger because  in a world where ‘junk food’ is advertised so much, I hoped that if my children knew why fruit and veg were ‘cool’ and good to eat, it would help them to make better choices on their own. Being vegetarian, was also a way to make Hatty a more gentle tiger and take him away from the usually ferocious stereotype. Among a feast of wonderful books that are out there, I like to believe the Hatty stories have helped my own children to think ‘outside the (junk) box’!.

Q: What makes this brand unique?

Jonathan: Well, because Hatty is a vegetarian tiger it throws up a lot of other issues apart from just diet. There’s peer-pressure, fear and isolation involved, as well as important character issues like conviction, persistence, kindness and individuality. Hatty is not a ‘goody-goody’, and his behavior and ideas aren’t always the best, but he tries hard and has a lot of fun on the way to learning his lessons, and I’d say that this is the essence of the ‘brand’: A fun and unexpected way of educating children about  issues of diet, cooking and character.

Q: What age range would this brand appeal to?

Jonathan: 3-8 years-old would be the main age group to read the Hatty books, ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ and the sequel, ‘Hatty And The Hard Beans!’ Though I teach children up to 14 in writing and illustration workshops based on the books, I always read the books to the younger ones. Having said that, everyone likes to be read to, and because the books are written in fun, rhyming couplets, I often get requests on school visits to read to classes up to 10 years old.

Q: What sort of feedback have you received so far?

Jonathan: Quite honestly, the reviews for both books have been terrific – and the app which has only been out for a few weeks is just now starting to receive reviews. The direct feedback I get from parents and teachers on my school tours has been really positive and I get lots of letters from the children after my visits, with ideas for new Hatty adventures  or telling me their favorite parts of the books. Hatty really seems to resonate with many of them and I feel inspired by the discussions and the issues his character raises.

Q: What lead to the decision to create “The Tiger Who Wasn’t” into an app as opposed to an eBook? 

Jonathan: Actually, I did make an eBook of, ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ while I was making the app. The whole business is so relatively new that I wanted to see how each part works and the eBook was a small expense since I did the work myself. However, making an app is THE way to go – and I was never in any doubt that I would do it. From the first time I saw my children ‘playing’ with a book app and enjoying the feedback and interaction (with a great story of course) I realized that the future of electronic picture books would never be a straightforward eBook..

Q: Tell us about your app!  What is your favorite feature and what would you like to convey to the end-user? 

Jonathan: It was a lot of fun making the story come to life – literally – with tap animations, original music and sound fx. I’ve seen a lot of storybook apps where I’ve been impressed with the technical side of their presentation, but the essence of them, a good story, has been lost in a lot of bells and whistles. I would like to think that the solid heart of ‘The Tiger Who Wasn’t!’ is a really fun and touching story that young children can actively get involved with and learn from. It still makes me smile to see the joy and laughter that children get when they make the animals move or the skunk fart!! Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great games and activities included with the app also, like the Coloring Pages, Hatty’s Hide & Seek’, or ‘Hatty’s Avocado Roll (all 20 skill levels of it), but I like to think that these are unexpected and enjoyable features that complement the story. For me, the story remains the star part of the app and includes 3 different  ‘reading’ versions and text highlighting, together with the original music and fx.

Q: What’s been the most difficult part of creating an app? 

Jonathan: Raising the money to make it, was pretty tough! Thankfully, the books were very well received by the local school in Cyprus where I live, and having written, illustrated and published them myself, the children, teachers and parents here were fantastic. I had many sales through recommendations and word of mouth and, Ruth, the owner of a local bookstore, ‘The Moufflon Bookshop’, was incredibly helpful and supportive in helping me get the word out across the island. Apart from that, having raised the money, it was a question of how to get the most value for the consumer out of the ideas we had. The developers I finally chose, Dragonpencil of Savannah, Georgia, were brilliant here; guiding me through the process with their expertise and experience, and opening my eyes to new possibilities.

Q: Now that your app is published, were there any unexpected surprises during the process? 

Jonathan: It took 6 months to make the app from the day I signed my contract with Dragonpencil, the developers. There were many surprises which came from going through that process of drawing, animating, making the sound fx and seeing it all come to life. During the process I was wracking my brains as to how I would publicize it, and probably the biggest surprise is that this turned out to be a music video, ‘The Hatty Rap!’ The first person I sent this to, having posted it on my website and YouTube, was Karen Robertson(The Empress of App!). Her positive and immediate response was a big and wonderful surprise. Feedback from those who have earned your respect is a great feeling.

Q: Any words of advice for other writers who are thinking about creating apps? 

Jonathan: Trust your dreams, buy an iPad, research as much as possible before you start – and NEVER underestimate the intelligence of children! Apart from that, it’s vital you choose your developer carefully: A good one will help you realize your dream, while a bad one will cramp it or kill it. Generally – to be happy – work for the heights, but expect the lows! That way you’ll always be pleasantly surprised and never disappointed

Q: Between the book & the book app? Which has had better sales results & is that what you expected. 

Jonathan: The app has only just come out and is doing well so far, whereas my books have been out for a year. Apart from selling the books on Amazon etc, I also offer personally signed copies with free worldwide mailing direct from my website. It’s all PayPal, so customers know they are protected and they seem to like the signed copies. It’s more time investment for me and expense with mailing and packing, but in the end the revenue is the same for me as selling on Amazon, and it’s a more personal touch for customers. Dollar-wise my book revenue is still ahead because the app is brand new, but because sales are totally dependent on marketing and lucky breaks, every single sale  – whether it be a book or an app – means that someone else is enjoying my work and there’s no dollar figure for that feeling!

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Jonathan: Have fun. Making an app is a journey and giving it a deadline can be your best friend. It can rarely be perfect in your eyes, because you’re learning all the time. The important thing is to enjoy the process and give as much as you can. The smile on a child’s face when they first get their hands on your app is a thrill that never fades!

The Tiger That Wasn't

App: The Tiger Who Wasn’t

App Store link

Android version on GOOGLE Play

Music video (Gotta watch!)http://youtu.be/cgUOiJO5ywU

Hatty Books

website: www.hattybooks.com

Social Media links: FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hatty-the-Tiger/216463078458985

Gifting or sharing apps in the iTunes App store

I was recently asked by my mother, “Can I give an app as a gift?” Apparently a few of her friends wanted to give apps to their grand kids as gifts. My mom, who’s my biggest supporter has been introducing her peers to the wonderful world of book apps.

Leaving book reviews & gifting apps is proving to be a little tricky as they attempt to navigate the iTunes app store. The answer is “Yes!” and “You can do it!” In this post i’ll guide you thru the process of gifting apps. Watch out for my next post on how to leave app reviews.

It’s easy to do if you follow these simple steps. If you aren’t the lucky recipient of a direct click thru link to the app for  you’ll have to do a search first. example of link to a book app “Grendel’s Great Escape :https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grendels-great-escape-hd/id585977954?mt=8

  1. Step : Enter the iTunes app store  Image
  2. Locate the app by clicking on the category ex:books, games or entering the name in the search bar in the top right corner & click enter.

4. Below the icon of the app, to the right of the price is an arrow with a drop down menu, this will give you the option to gift the app as well as sharing it by social media or e-mail. – Appy shopping.

Click here for —-> Video Directions 

iPad screenshot

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computer screen shot

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Any questions? write them below

Video Review for Monster Jam

This Summer has been a busy one with the launch of my new Monster Jam children’s app and the soon to be published Picture book. It’s been a fun ride developing this epic Rock & Roll story with my musical sons, the amazing illustrator Vic Guiza, and the good folks at Dragon Pencil book publishing & App builders.

As the band takes center stage, the reviews are coming in. Some good & others amazing. Many of us are visual people who love to be entertained so I find u-tube video review/demo’s to be very effective in reaching the intended audience.

As always I want to know what you think. Please let me know if you find this review informative & effective.

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Gotta watch: Here is an awesome video demo by Crazy Mike 

Aug ’13 Book of the Month – My Head is Full of Colors

As back to school season looms around the corner, and I get my youngest son ready for 4th grade, I realize it’s time. Time to get back to my picture book of the month posts.  Sadly my sons have moved on from picture books but thankfully I haven’t and never will.

X 001 My Head is Full Of Colors

I’m a print designer by day and a children’s writer during every waking and dreaming moment. My Head is Full of Colors is the book that flipped the switch for me. It was because the Author was telling my story and the illustrator drew everything that was in my head as a child. It’s the story of every child whose mind is wide open to the wonders of the world around them.

X 006 My Head is Full Of ColorsAnyone who’s read my Bio knows how much I love the designs incorporated within the illustrations. I cherish my 20-year-old copy of this book which was originally bought for design reference.

The story this book tells about a creative and imaginative little girl is wonderful. The mother is wonderfully supportive & embraces the fact that her daughter sees things differently. Maybe one day i’ll have the privilege of meeting this Author or illustrator. I hope this book is still in stores, if not it can be found online at Amazon.

X 008 My Head is Full of ColorsMy head is full of colors by Catherine Friend & illustrated by KiKi

Drop a comment if you’ve read this book or share a book that left a strong impression that you could identify with.

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