Moonbot Studios, LLC is a production company that is responsible for putting out into the world animated videos such as the Academy Award winning short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore that was written and illustrated by William Joyce. The children’s picture book version was put out after the win and then the app was developed to make the book’s reading experience interactive and full of wonderment. It is an augmented reality based app that works with the book. You would need to have both in order for it to work- the app costs $4.99 and works with iPhones and iPads. I’ve used it on my iPhone. What you would need to do is make sure your volume is on. When you open the app, it is in black and white so it gives a feel of retro-ness. You have three choices upon this arrival: Get the Book, How-to Video and Play! If you bought the app before knowing it went with a book, Get the Book would probably be the first place to go. If you didn’t own the book, you could find it at your nearest library. Since I love books, I already owned a copy so I could immediately start playing with it. However, if you didn’t and you clicked on Get the Book, it would bring you to the different avenues to purchase or you could “test drive” the app by allowing you access to printing a few pages of the book so you could try out the app without the book. This is enough to entice one to find a copy and find it quick!
Images from: Moonbot Studios, LLC http://www.moonbotstudios.com
When you press the choice of How to Video, it is an old, black and white video that is very reminiscent of the 50s television programs. This video gives tips and helpful hints for how to use your device and book for the best interactive situation. There is a special aspect of the app which shows you a helper that will tell you what to do and you can even move your iPhone or iPad around the room which makes it look like you are IN THE BOOK!
When you use the app on the title, page, the title pops off the page and turns a red color. You can hear an old record scratching sound and then music begins to play that is played in the animated version of this book. Books begin flying around the page. You begin with Mr. Morris Lessmore sitting on his porch with stacks of books and the music is very calming yet jaunty. Then, you turn the page and there is a twister and the books are flying all around and the tune turns intense and causes a feeling of turmoil. You can then move your iPhone or iPad around your actual home and it is as if books are flying and circling around you! How cool (but scary)! Each turn of the page brings a different interaction and allows you to touch a character for a different motion, or turns your house into a gigantic library lined on every wall with books! One of the coolest pages has a picture of Mr. Morris Lessmore being followed by books and when you tap on the books, it is like you are playing notes on a piano! This really brings the book to life and with the music accompanying it, sets the mood and tone of the different events that happen throughout this beautiful story.
In a school library setting, I would ask to acquire a handful (possibly 4 or 5) of the iPads to have the apps created by Moonbot Studios, LLC available for use. There are other creations by this company and I am thinking it would be smart to have the books and a version of the app on different iPads so different students could use a book and a different iPad with the corresponding app- that way they can share and I don’t need to get multiple copies of the books and multiple copies of the app. There are enough to go around! If the other apps are as interactive and amazing as this one, they are sure to be a hit with kids!
My own children used the app along with the book and the looks of amazement on their faces said it all. This app rocks and will be inspiring to budding authors and illustrators and app developers (and maybe they will want to be all three, just like Mr. Joyce!). I can see using the books in a station in the library as a choice when doing an author/illustrator study on William Joyce and looking at all of the various types and formats of literacy around this one story. I could also see students writing reviews on each one or choosing one aspect that they liked the best: print, animation or the augmented reality app. I’d be interested in seeing which one they preferred and why.
I am happy to share that I prefer all three! I know. I should really pick one but the book itself is beautiful, the animated movie brings me to tears with the music and the app is just creative and makes me feel like I am a kid and feeling that amazing tingle in my heart and brain that they brought the book to a different level. Well worth the five bucks!