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Archive for August, 2010

Carlton Books and HarperCollins have done it and I know others are planning to follow suit.

It’s called ‘augmented reality’ and is all part of the publishing houses embracing the fast development of digital publishing.

Rather than have a paper OR digital mentality, I firmly believe publishers and the book industry as a whole will only survive if we embrace both the new and old. Some things, we will always need and want in physical form, a children’s picture book with lift up flaps, a beautiful coffee table book or, of course my beloved cookery books but now more so than ever we are seeing the great, expansive potential in creating a world in a digital format, created from physical books themselves.

Confused? Yes, I was too.

I recently got sent two books by Carlton books and when sending them to me the publisher asked “Do you have a webcam?” Of course this worried me slightly, but not to worry, it’s all how the book works. Augmented reality allows access into a visual, digital world…something you can’t quite get from a book, no matter how silly you look in those 3D glasses.

So I eagerly tried out this 3d development with the books Fairyland Magic and Dinosaurs Alive. Were dinosaurs and fairies really going to be flying around my study? I would soon find out!

Yup Dinosaurs were alive and no longer extinct, in my study and some were quite mencacing…thankfully all I needed to do was shut the book and I was safe but the imagery is very realistic and so much fun. Do make sure you have the sound on. You can turn the book around to change the angle and if you experiment with your keyboard, you will discover the dinosaurs do lots of things.

This book is just wonderful and so impressive for one of the first of its kind. It really get the kids involved in learning, or just gives them that escapism they sometimes need, satisfying their craving to be on the computer playing a game whilst actually, they’re reading a book.

Now it was fairy time, some light relief was needed after my experience with the dinosaurs. Fairyland Magic is designed in the same format as Dinosaurs Alive…you quickly upload the software from the CD slotted inside the book and read through the book, stopping to hold up the book to the webcam when given the prompt. What’s great is you’re in the background on the webcam and can see your reaction. Don’t worry, this is 100% safe from the online world, no one  can see you but you.

The Fairyland book is full of watercolour style, bright illustrations of  fairy land so you are really drawn in both on paper and in the virtual world. It’s truly fun and a great escape from a vampire dominated literary world. Girly girls will love it, and will soon find their favourite fairies.

Fairyland Magic (978-1847325792 )  and Dinosaurs Alive (9781847325785)  are published by Carlton Books.

Visit www.bookscomealive.co.uk for more about Augmented Reality (AR) and where you can view a demonstration video.

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This beautiful hardback book; a sequel to ‘Lost and Found’ is published Thursday 2nd September in hardback.

Traditionally hardback picture books don’t sell very well, unless you are Julia Donaldson but I certainly think Oliver Jeffers has the good to back it up.

Jeffers charmed the nation both young and old when he wrote and illustrated Lost and Found, the story of an unknowing boy and a lonely penguin.

 This sequel continues in the same trend of the two friends embarking on a journey of discovery together, of developing their friendship and finding something even more wonderful than they had before.

Penguin has a best friend, he should be satisfied and yet he wants one more thing in his life…to fly. The boy enthusiastically helps in the penguins quest to fly; he has wings so why shouldn’t he fly? But nothing works and the penguins frustrations lead him to be led astray and forget that the boy needs penguin as much as penguin needs the boy. Ultimately the penguin realises that whilst it’s important and necessary to have dreams, we mustn’t forget about those around us and jeapordise what we have.

I read this book out loud to my Mum because I wanted to share with her how wonderful and inspiring Jeffers is. In the end it was my cats who gathered round to hear me read (I kid you not). But it occured to me how integral the illustrations are to this story. The pictures are so sparse, almost desolate and yet their simplicity draws you in to this friendship and makes you yearn for one as special as what the boy and the penguin have.

It’s just a hauntingly beautiful book and I’ve not been as passionate and enthusiastic about a picture book author in a long time. But Oliver Jeffers can do something remarkable with his words and pictures- he creates a world. A world we know is not quite real, and yet speaks to us in such a way that we are moved for quite some time. Perhaps his books are more profound to adults, remebering a childhood friendship in which you tried to fly to the moon, or sailed to the North Pole.

But I also know that his books will please children, in a way as such they are brought back into their childhood, into a simplistic innocence which we often lose in todays world.

A classic I’m sure. I hope it becomes a TV animation in the same fashion as ‘Lost and Found’.

ISBN: 9780007263844

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