— by Glenn Hovemann
We feel downright cutting-edge here at Dawn, thanks to our new venture into a virtual pop-up book. “What’s THAT?” you might well ask. Here’s the story.
Not long ago our tech wizard and developer, Malachi Bazan, wandered to the center of our office and announced, “Hey, everyone, take a look at this.” He was hovering his tablet above one of our new picture books so that you could see the book on the screen of the tablet. Then an extraordinary thing happened—the frog on the page jumped right up from the screen! “I just had to try and see if this would work,” Mal said with his usual modesty.
Did we get on board? You bet. We just released one of our new books, The Mouse and the Meadow, with a free pop-up app. The result is that characters in The Mouse and the Meadow dramatically spring to life—the owl swoops, the mouse runs, and the snake lunges as the story is being read aloud.
We took a demo to a local school and were not surprised—the kids exclaimed “awesome!
Here’s how it works. From our website (click on New Pop-up App on the left sidebar), or from a QR code on the back of the new book, you go to our webpage where there are links to the free app. Download the app onto your smartphone or tablet (both Apple or Android versions are available). Activate the app and tell it to “go,” then hold your phone or tablet about two feet away from the book (it’s best to avoid glare from lights) and in a few seconds your device recognizes the page and the characters on that page “pop up” on the screen and the narration begins. The touch of a finger animates the characters.
This remarkable technology is called Augmented Reality, and this is the first time that we know of in which it has been applied to creative non-fiction—stories with real characters from nature. The Mouse and the Meadow is a dynamic, true-to-life story written and illustrated by Chad Wallace in which a curious young mouse ventures forth into the meadow for the first time, and gets a crash course on life from creatures both friendly and not so friendly. He witnesses a caterpillar becoming a chrysalis. He marvels that fireflies can glow. He has a thoughtful encounter with a turtle. A garter snake would have him for lunch. A great horned owl nearly does. The Mouse and the Meadow builds vocabulary and presents important concepts, such as pollination, animal survival, and food chains. Science and story blend seamlessly.
Dawn’s interest is not to distract attention from the content but to enhance children’s involvement both with nature and with the reading experience. On an educational level, Augmented Reality can make reading come alive in a completely immersive and interactive way. Plus the rhyme of the story makes it fun to listen to the words as you watch the action of the pop-up.
Please take a look at this exciting new feature and tell us what you think.