Animal SnApp has SIX rhyming stories to explore, all with original artwork by Axel: Lucky Lamb, Cuddly Cow, Diggity Dog, Portly Pig, Gobbly Goat and Higgledy Hen. We’ve built the app especially with young children in mind: it’s very easy to use and navigate, focuses on a theme (farmyard animals) familiar to all pre-schoolers, with features designed particularly for pre-literate users, including text highlighting and rhyming text. And it also has stunning animation, fantastic music and sound effects, and lively child narration. You can watch the trailer above, and here’s Axel talking a little bit about how he illustrated the app:
“Nosy Crow is a London-based independent that publishes some of the best-quality digital children’s books available. Take its retelling of Cinderella: the original illustrations and animation are first rate, and kids can read it or listen as it’s spoken by other children.”
“Set on the farmyard, it gets children to match the top and bottom halves of six animals before reading a rhyming story for each. The stories are accompanied by animation, music and text-highlighting to help young readers, too.”
A guest blog post by Odile Leveugle, the founder of Applimini.com, a French kids’ apps reviews website, on using our Apps with French-speaking children.
I’m a busy mother of two boys. Félix is 4 and Lucien is 2. Having lived in the UK when I was younger, I’ve still got a real interest for English language and British culture. Since my boys were born, I’ve always thought it would be a valuable inheritance for them to have this “English package” in their cultural background. But you know how it goes: days run fast, kids grow even faster and by the time you find precious moments to teach them a bit of English with songs or games they’re already four years old and old enough to tell you, “Oh no mum, I’m not interested in knowing how to say yellow in English! Come on, tell me about dinosaurs instead… and in French… please!”
When Felix was younger, I managed to have him listening to some English with Peppa Pig or Fireman Sam videos. But he discovered with his school friends that there were Peppa Pig and a “Sam le pompier” in French! From then on, needless to tell you where I could put my videos in English!
And this is where Nosy Crow came to my rescue!
I use the home iPad for my work. On this iPad, the majority of apps are for kids. I usually order them randomly on purpose… just to see which apps attract my kids the most. I’ve got all sorts: puzzles, memory games, interactive stories, song apps… but most of them are in French. The exceptions in English are the Nosy Crow apps.
And as opposed to the video experience, Felix never ends an iPad session without going to Animal SnApp or Bizzy Bear. He just loooooves them! It seems he keeps them for the end just like you do with your favorite meal. You would have thought he would be more attracted by Pip and Posy because it does not require much English comprehension. But no… Animal SnApp takes the lead.
The other day he was playing with his playmobil toys in his room and he was saying “One… two … three… four”… up to ten. I asked him “Where did you learn to count in English? I remember teaching you when you were a baby but not since then!”. His answer was: “With the cow and sheep on the iPad”.
Lucky boy to grow with Cuddly Cow!
Thank you, Odile, for sharing your experience! As well as teaching counting in Cuddly Cow and Higgly Hen’s stories, Animal SnApp is also great for early literacy skills: some of the benefit of rhyming stories are discussed inthis post.
You can find Animal SnApp on the App Storehere– and you can also find French-language editions of some of our apps – including Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, and Bizzy Bear – from our apps partnerGallimardhere.
“Old MacDonald gets a British twist (boots are called “a Welly”, for example), right from Nosy Crow (see also Cinderella) in this make-your-own nursery rhyme. The app is a good choice for the young child … everyone will like the personable animals. This is an excellent language experience.”
The app website AppPicker has also published an interview with Nosy Crow on the making of the app, which you can read here.
And you can find Animal SnApp on the App Store for $4.99 (£2.99) here – we’d love to hear what you think of it!
It’s been a very busy Monday in the Crow’s Nest, and although this blog post is a little late in the day, there are a couple of pieces of app news that we wanted to share!
The video at the top of this post is a very early look at our upcoming app, Rounds: Parker Penguin, the follow up to Rounds: Franklin Frog. The app is coming along BRILLIANTLY and will be out in mid-December (and there’ll be a full trailer coming soon). In Rounds: Parker Penguin, you can learn all about penguins and life in the Antarctic, and help Parker by sliding, swimming, hunting, marching, dancing – all the things that penguins do best.
Our Thanksgiving app sale has now begun, which means that you can get Animal SnApp: Farm – the first storybook app from Axel Scheffler – for just 99c (69p) on the App Store! The promotion will run until Monday, after which time the app will return to its (very reasonable!) full price of $4.99 (£2.99).
If you do buy the app, we’d love to hear from you! Please consider leaving a review on the App Store – they’re incredibly valuable to us. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or reach us by email at [email protected].
We’re celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend with a special promotion for our newest storybook app, Animal SnApp: Farm.
The app will be on sale for the unbelievably good price of 99c (69p) from Friday (November 23rd) until Monday (November 26th), before returning to it’s full price of $4.99 (£2.99) – don’t miss out!
Animal SnApp is The Gruffalo and Pip and Posy illustrator Axel Scheffler’s first every storybook app, and it’s truly remarkable. Combining an innovative slider game with six original rhyming farmyard stories, it’s sure to appeal to children aged 2 and up: the beautiful artwork and animation, friendly music and child narration, and simple and intuitive interactivity are perfect for the very young. And the rhyming stories, familiar subject, and our text highlighting feature are great introductions to early literacy skills.
The app is the recipient of an Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review and glowing praise from dozens of parents, children, and reviewers. The Guardian called it “a characterful mix of storytelling, play and excellent illustrations.” PadGadget said, “Axel Scheffler’s engaging illustrations and the apps use of animation compliment the narrative of each story. The app includes sounds and background music that add to but never overwhelm the story … Animal-loving pre-schoolers will adore playing AnimalSnApp: Farm, and parents will likely enjoy the stories even after countless re-readings.” And Mashable wrote that, “Old MacDonald gets a wonderful British twist in this make-your-own nursery rhyme that is perfect for a beginning reader.”
You can find Animal SnApp: Farm on the App Store here – it will go on sale from Friday, according to each app’s timezone.
Have fun with Animal SnApp, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Nosy Crow!
A blog post by Ed Bryan, Head of Apps Development (Creative) at Nosy Crow, on the making of Animal SnApp: Farm. Click on any picture to expand.
I’ve tried to make this post as interesting as possible and hopefully shed some light on how we went about making Animal SnApp: Farm.
My initial sketches based on the original script.
Before handing over to Beakus (the creative studio who animated Axel Scheffler’s artwork for the app) it was really important for us to know exactly what we needed to ask them to do.
To start with I went through the script for each story and worked out what would be happening in each scene, what interactions would push each story along, and how all the individual animations would link together. This mostly involved some very, very rough drawings and sticking bits of paper on other bits of paper, as you can see.
Paper prototype for working out what animations we were going to need and what interactions each scene needed.
This low-tech way of prototyping is quick and requires no engineering or anything fancy – and if you don’t like something you can easily chuck it away and start again. This stage also highlights any technical issues that might cause trouble. For example, with Cuddly Cow, we needed to be able to tap each lamb and have Cuddly count. We also wanted to be able to hatch Higgly Hen’s eggs in any order you liked.
For the first three stories I even went as far as scanning these diagrams on to the computer and used Adobe InDesign to build very crude flash documents that gave me (at least) a better idea of how the stories would look and feel when you interacted with them – this is something that I’ve done on other apps too.
Once I had the prototypes for each story and we were all agreed on the interactivity within the app, it was time to start taking Axel’s illustration and assemble it into the final artwork for each scene.
Axel’s original artwork, scanned and ready to go!
Axel had illustrated everything separately so it would be easier to composite together. For me this way of working is normal because you’ve always got in the back of your head that you’re going to want to animate characters and reuse background elements whilst building the app. I think for Axel, this was a new way of doing things, but as you can see he did a fine job!
Once all the artwork was scanned I had to remove all the white background so I could take all the different bits and put them together to fit each scene in each story. The trickiest parts to clean up were the piles of straw and all the little gaps in the wire fences, but thankfully Photoshop has some pretty nifty tools for helping with this!
I kept all the artwork at full resolution even though that’s way bigger than what you’d need for even iPad 3’s retina display, so the files were pretty big – I learnt a long time ago that it’s easy to reduce the size of stuff, but impossible to make things bigger!
The biggest background was for Higgly’s story; she runs around the farmyard looking for her lost eggs and meets a few of the other animals there, so the scene had to be very wide.
Final farmyard background for Higgly Hen’s story.
Here’s the final background for Higgly’s run through the farmyard. It needed to loop at the end so the animation would appear to run forever. The rectangle over the pig shows the small area that would be visible on the iPad at any one time.
Pig sty and horse’s stable for Higgly’s story.
Working with other people’s art is always fun and I tried my best to end up with backgrounds that were faithful and respectful to the original artwork. I even made a couple of custom brushes in Photoshop to try to mimic the subtle watercolour strokes that Axel makes look so effortless – this allowed me to put in the odd shadow here and there.
I always (well, nearly always) like the technical challenge of having to use what you have to get the job done; for example, Higgly needed to be in the pig sty looking for her eggs AND have the horse present too. I had to use all my crafty Photoshop skills to magically combine the sty with parts of the two barn/stable interiors to get the finished background. I guess this is the one benefit of working on a computer – you can repurpose and tweak artwork to your heart’s content!
So, over a couple of weeks I managed plan out and make six huge layered Photoshop files for the first three stories ready to be uploaded to Beakus and whilst they began to animate those, I carried on with the other three stories.
It wasn’t long before started to receive piles of DVDs in the post – and I’ll talk about that next time.
So many discs!
Part Two of the making of Animal SnApp will appear on this blog shortly! You can find the app on iTuneshereand see Axel talking about making the art for the app below:
In order to enter the competition, all you have to do is buy Animal SnApp (available for iPad 2 and higher and iPhone 4 and higher, for $3.99 in the US and £2.49 in the UK), take a screenshot of the app on your homescreen (to take a screenshot, press the ‘home’ and ‘power’ buttons together at once) and email the picture (which will be automatically saved to your Photos album) to [email protected].
We have only 30 copies of Pip and Posy to give away – we’ll count down on Twitter, so keep an eye on our @NosyCrowApps account to make sure you’re not too late, and once all 30 copies of the app have gone, we’ll put a note at the top of this blogpost.
You can find Animal SnApp: Farm on the App Store here.
And you can find Pip and Posy: Fun and Games (usually priced at $2.99/ £1.99) here.
And, for the first time, you can also see our trailer for Animal SnApp for the first time at the top of this blog!
After much anticipation, we’re absolutely thrilled that Animal SnApp: Farm, the first every storybook app by Axel Scheffler, is out now for the special introductory price of $3.99 (£2.49).
The app represents several other firsts for us, as well. It’s our first rhyming story. It’s the first time that we’re going to make a book “out of” an app (Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm will be out next year). And it’s our first app to use a non-linear point of entry to the narrative, in the form of a fun slider game which serves two functions: you can swipe through Axel’s farmyard characters to make new animals (we’ve been tweeting some of the results all week), and you can “unlock” each character’s full story by completing its top and bottom half.
Animal SnApp has SIX brand new stories to explore, all with original artwork by Axel: Lucky Lamb, Cuddly Cow, Diggity Dog, Portly Pig, Gobbly Goat and Higgledy Hen. We’ve built the app especially with young children in mind: it’s very easy to use and navigate, focuses on a theme (farmyard animals) familiar to all pre-schoolers, with features designed particularly for pre-literate users, including text highlighting and rhyming text (I mentioned some of the benefits of rhyme last week in a post on National Poetry Day). And it also has stunning animation, fantastic music and sound effects, and lively child narration.
You can find Animal SnApp on the App Store here, for iPad 2 and higher and iPhone 4 and higher.
And we also have two copies to give away! To be in with a chance of winning one, all you have to do is share this post on Facebook or this tweet on Twitter – we’ll pick a winner from each group at the end of the day!
Animal SnApp: Farm is almost ready (it’ll be available to buy on the App Store for the introductory price of $3.99 from Thursday) and we can barely contain our excitement. We’ve been posting a new animal combination from the app every day on Twitter (today’s is a Dow, shown at the top of this post) and there’ll be some VERY exciting competitions to celebrate the launch of the app later in the week (so check back here).
You can watch the trailer for Pip and Posy: Fun and Games – a series of fun, friendly games based on the characters from Axel’s wonderful picture book series – below, and buy the app for $2.99/ £1.99 from the App Store here.
And you can download The Grunts: Beard of Bees, based on the character from Philip Ardagh’s illustrated fiction series The Grunts, for free here.
And here’s one final peak at Animal SnApp – what an unhappy looking pig…
If you’d like to be reminded about the release of Animal SnApp once the app is on sale, you can sign up to our Apps Announcement mailing list here.
We’re hugely excited that our next app, Animal SnApp: Farm, is almost ready. The app – which is Axel Scheffler’s first EVER storybook app – will be out later this month for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It’s filled with lots of original artwork by Axel, along with incredible animation, fun child narration, our text highlighting feature, rhyming texts, and fantastic music and sound effects.
Animal SnApp combines a fun and innovative slider game with SIX original rhyming stories. You can swipe through the top and bottom halves of six different farmyard characters to make fun new animals (What do you get when you cross a pig with a sheep? Why, a peep, of course!), and unlock the rhyming story of each character by “completing” its two pieces.
To introduce the app to you, we’ll be showcasing a different new animal on Twitter every day… starting off with a peep!
If you’d like find out as soon as Animal SnApp is available on the App Store, you can sign up to our Apps Announcement mailing list here – and in the meantime, keep an eye on this blog and our Facebook page and @NosyCrowApps Twitter feed, where we’ll be posting new art from the app every day!
From the moment I saw a touch-screen device – an iPod Touch – I was excited about the potential for apps to become reading experiences for children.
The first thing that struck me was the immediacy of the experience relative to other screen experiences: when you touch the screen, something happens. As adults, we have learned that we can make something happen on a screen by fiddling around with a mouse or a keyboard or a remote control. But if you showed a computer to someone from Shakespeare’s time, she wouldn’t touch the keyboard, but (when she’d got over her fear) would, I think, try to make something happen by touching the screen. If you type “toddler using an iPad” into google, you’ll see two year-olds using that device for the first time instinctively.
The second thing that struck me was how portable the devices were. I am a mother, and, when my children were little, I carried a huge bag that contained, as well as snacks and wet-wipes and a change of clothes, toys and at least five board or picture books. I realised that you could store hundreds of books in this tiny thing: an iPhone is approximately12 centimetres by 6 centimetres by 1 centimetre.
The third thing that struck me was how lovely the screen looked, and how beautiful colours looked on it. The backlighting that many people find annoying when they read texts on screen meant that colour images were lit up like little stained-glass windows.
And the fourth thing that struck me was that, now these things were in the world, they are unlikely to go away.
At The Bookseller’s Children’s Conference in September 2010, Justine Abbott, from Aardvark Research shared some of her research about young children’s engagement with digital media.
She talked about the fact that 28% of children under six have a television in their own rooms.
She said that pre-schoolers in her survey were watching television for over two hours per day.
She said that the youngest iPad user she’d met was four months old.
She quoted the mother of her 20 month-old son, “he’ll probably learn to read from the computer”.
She said that parents welcomed iPhones as “electronic Mary Poppinses”, providing interactive and engaging entertainment for their children without their intervention.
She concluded by saying that families were increasingly embracing screen-based technology as entertainment for their child, saying it was “portable, personal and (importantly) permissible”.
I know that many people involved in the world of children’s books shake their heads in sorrow or horror at Justine Abbott’s statements, and would, I know, recoil from the other statistical evidence that children are spending less time with print and more with screens and that their parents and teachers are letting them or encouraging them to do so.
But what are we to do? We could turn our back on the evidence, and say it is nothing to do with us, and keep our focus exclusively on print. Or we could try to ensure that some of that screen-time is reading time.
At Nosy Crow, we love books. We love the smell of them. We love the feel of them. We love the way that everything changes when you turn a page. Some of the books we will publish really have to happen on the printed page: they are very physical things. There are touch-and-feel elements throughout the Noodle books illustrated by Marion Billet that we will publish in May 2011. There are illustrations for the reader to complete with their own pens and pencils in the Mega Mash-up books by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson that we publish in February 2001. And there are good, “old-fashioned” (in format, not content) paperbacks like S C Ransom’s romantic fantasy Small Blue Thing, published in January 2011, and beautifully produced picture books like Axel Scheffler’sPip and Posy titles that are published in April 2011.
But, while we love books, we love reading more. And we profoundly believe in the potential for literacy and, specifically, reading for pleasure, to transform lives. We know that reading for pleasure correlates with increased attainment in reading and writing; that reading for pleasure fosters creativity and imagination; that reading for pleasure develops good social attitudes; that reading for pleasure contributes to knowledge and understanding of the world and that reading for pleasure contributes to self-esteem. We don’t just make this stuff up. These are the conclusions of decades of research: PIRLS 2007; Cox and Guthrie 2001; Meek, 1987; Allen et al 2005; Bus et al, 1995; Stanovich and Cunningham, 1993; Hatton and Marsh, 2005; Pressley 2000.
I’ve just come back from speaking at a children’s publishing conference in Munich: Wie digital wird das Kinderbuch?(How digital will children’s books become?). There the statistics presented about German children’s embrace of technology were just as overwhelming, but several publishers there were advocating a softly-softly approach: let’s make apps, but let’s not make them too different from books. Let’s keep the book, but have it appear on the screen. Let’s not get into competition with computer games and animated films.
That’s not what I think we, as publishers, should do.
I think that this route risks making reading less exciting to children. If games and books exist in the same screen space, the comparison between the two will be made. If something happens – a noise, a movement – when you touch the iPad screen when you are playing a game, won’t you feel disappointed if nothing much happens when you are reading a book?
I think that, as publishers, we shouldn’t be trying to squash the books that already exist onto a phone. We should, I think, be creating reading experiences for touch-screen devices. The devices have the capacity for sound, animation and interactivity built into them, and we should use those capacities to tell stories in a new and engaging way.
We’re trying to do just that. If you go onto YouTube and search Nosy Crow, you will find a video of the first of our 3-D Fairy Tales: The Three Little Pigs. It has text and it has illustrations, but it also has an audio track, and animation. When you touch the characters, they move, and you get additional comments. You can make the wolf blow down the house. You can explore the picture, and, when you tip the device backwards and forwards, the images look as if they are in 3-D. Here’s the link.
Making this app, and working on the others that we are developing has used many of the skills we already had: shaping text, determining pacing and choosing illustrations. We have had to learn new skills too, some of them purely technical, but many of them about how to tell a story in this new medium.
We think that, for us and for the people we have worked with, the process has been exciting. But what is important is that we’ve ended up with a reading experience that is engaging, fun, scary, funny, worthy of repeating – in the same way that a good book is all those things.
We shouldn’t turn our back. We shouldn’t go a little way down the digital path or do it half-heartedly and with reluctance. We should, I think, go to where our readers are going, and make sure that they read along the way.
(This is an edited version of an article that Kate has written for Books For Keeps, published in 2011)
This Monday found us back in the studio with producer Ali Muirden and sound engineer Lance England (pictured). Kate and Deb, along with our crew of very talented young voice actors, were there to record the narration for Animal SnApp: Farm, the first in our series of forthcoming SnApp apps.
Fueled with fruit and lots of little cakes (what else?), our actors put in brilliantly heartfelt performances as Dizzy Duck, Higgly Hen, Hoofy Horse, and the rest of the Animal SnApp: Farm gang. They also gave us enthusiastic baa-ing, moo-ing, oinking, neighing and gobbling.. and a bit of giggling, too.
Here’s a snippet from Portly Pig:
Portly Pig felt much too clean He squealed, “I don’t like grass that’s green!’
I think flowers and trees are yucky I want to find a place that’s mucky.”
Don’t Ali and Lance look calm and cheerful? From their smiling faces, you’d never guess that this photo was taken after four hours listening to funny and slightly silly rhymes about farmyard animals.
Kate doesn’t think we’ve ever had as many people in the Crow’s Nest as we had yesterday, though with Kate Burns arriving in September and one more successful appointment to announce, we’d better get used to it.
From left to right we have Camilla, authors/illustrators Nikalas and Tim, Kate, Elaine McQuade, who will be working with Nosy Crow on PR and Marketing, Imogen, Deb and Kirsty. Adrian took the photo. We are gathered round an iPad, looking at Nikalas and Tim’s app in development, Animal SnApp, which looks even better on the iPad than it did on the iPod Touch/iPhone.
We also went through complete roughs for Nikalas and Tim’s first book in their draw-your-own-novels series, which are coming along a treat.
And what’s more, we decided to change the series and book titles. That very clever John Webb, who was a buyer at Tesco and who you can follow on Twitter (@batjohn3000) said to Kate of the books, “Great idea, but sounds like the pitch became the title.” Ahem. We had to acknowledge this to be exactly what happened, and it is absolutely the case that we bought this series with the kind of speed and excitement that precludes careful title consideration.
So the first book was originally called What if the Romans and Dinosaurs Lived on Mars?, and we were referring to the series as the What if…? series. The series name is now Mega Mash-Up and the first book is called Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars. (The cover currently on the site is a rough – but well done, Nikalas and Tim, for turning it round since yesterday!).
Frankly, it’s all-round annoying to change a title after you’ve announced a book, but it’s much better to do it after announcement if you think it’s the right thing to do than bash on with something that you’ve started to question. Besides, we’ve still got time, as the books don’t publish until February 2011. It’s not the first time Kate’s changed a title – or a cover – and it won’t be the last!
But getting titles right is a key responsibility for a publisher: a poor or misleading title can impact significantly on sales of a book. We think that this series and book title sounds more exciting, contemporary and fiction-y. What do you reckon?
Nosy Crow has always said it was serious about creating apps, and it’s good to be able to tell all of you what we’ve been working on in this area since our launch seven weeks ago.
Not only do we have these two apps (and ideas and plans for more than you can shake a stick at), but we’ve also just appointed Deb Gaffin as Digital Product Director, so now we have someone – only our fifth member of staff – who is very experienced concentrating on the development and marketing of apps.
We’ve decided to concentrate – for now – on apps for young children, but as we build our profile and our range in this area of this rapidly evolving market, we hope to branch out, so contact us if you’ve any brilliant ideas for apps for children or their parents, or skills in this area that you think we should know about: we’d love to hear from you.