Spring Changes: a book morphs into a beautifully produced app!

 

The digital publisher Auryn just released Spring Changes, my Scholastic book from 2002, as an app. It is now available at the iTunes store. It works fabulously, I think, but here’s the most interesting thing to me: the app is better than the book! It is more effective in doing what Spring Changes was developed to do (present basic facts about the season, encourage sensory awareness, and develop early reading skills) AND it is more creative in its presentation.

 

Cover for Spring Changes app for children 

Three reasons why the app is better than the book: 

1 – The quality of the images is excellent –  the light from behind, while viewing on the iPad, makes the images come alive in a way they did not in the book. Scholastic did, after all, print Spring Changes as a mass market paperback and the quality of the paper and printing was never able to do justice to the images so it’s great to see them “shine”. It’s like looking at slides again (anybody remember film?). Slides were always visually superior to prints and now, when viewing photographs on a tablet, that color-saturated, mysteriously-glowing aura is back!

App for kids Spring Changes; this page shows girl skipping in the woods 

2 – I also found that my original concept of using a background on each page worked so much more successfully in app form than it did in the book! While creating the book, I photographed some textural, evocative essence-of-spring images, put them at 50% or so opacity, and placed them behind the main images on the page. In the book, they look muddy on the low-quality paper and almost clutter the page. In the book, they are static but in the app, they are a dynamic part of the book’s flow! As you turn pages, the texture appears first and fills the screen before the main image comes up. The texture fills the screen again between page changes. This gives Spring Changes a beautiful and unifying flow. Plus, the textural transitions really add to the sensory awareness of the season that I originally had in mind. 

Young child touches pussywillows - page from Spring Changes children's app

 

3 – There is the usual interactivity, such as word identification for lots of nouns in the photos and different reading options, but this app goes further than that: kids can actually make their own personalized Spring Changes. They have the option to type in their own text and add their own photos. They can import photos or use their own taken on the iPad camera. In doing so, they seamlessly move from reader to writer. How’s that for getting involved? For encouraging reading? And promoting creativity?

 

I will produce a video trailer for the app soon that shows kids using these interactive functions.Great job by Auryn in bringing this title to life – find it at iTunes! Spring Changes pushes the envelope of the reading experience, and I will be figuring out ways to push it farther in upcoming titles already under contract with Auryn. Next up, the companion title: Fall Changes!

 

Boys throw a ball outside in spring - from eBook Spring Changes by Ellen Senisi