Producing an interactive book app is a lot like making a film.
By Rania Ajami (Founder & Director, Jumping Pages)
As a mom, sometimes I just want to go on strike!
All moms, working and stay-at-home, can sometimes feel underpaid, under-appreciated and misused. Yet one day, as I looked around my own home, it occurred to me that I was probably not the only one who felt this way. TV blaring, lights burning, washer and dryer continually spinning, a kitchen resembling a 24-hour diner. Maybe, I thought, the put-upon house and all of its constantly churning appliances wanted to strike too?
As the founder of Jumping Pages, a developer of children’s content, I believed a story about a fed-up house would be a perfect way to teach kids – and parents – to pay heed to their homes. Thus, our critically acclaimed, top ten and media darling “The House that Went on Strike” was born!
As a filmmaker prior to starting Jumping Pages, I recognized the iPad and mobile devices as the next media platform. Producing and directing an interactive book app is a lot like making a film. Thus, when we completed our first similarly critically acclaimed and mediagenic version of the David and Goliath book app for the iPad for kids, the comparison to a “Disney production” was evidence enough of the similarity.
I began the production process for “House”, just like a film, by writing a story about how a house would lead her troops, i.e. appliances, on a strike to teach the residing family a lesson. The script was then transformed into a sequence of panels for the iPad, with each panel containing interactive and animated scenes from the story. With the prose and plans for each panel in place, our graphic artist added delightful images, and our production team completed the visual, sound, music, animation and interactive components. The beauty of an iPad book for kids is that it can be read to them while the words are highlighted. With our David and Goliath production, we engaged 2006 World Series MVP and a modern day David, baseball star David Eckstein, to narrate the story. His life, like the David in the epic story, was an example in overcoming the odds, and a great lesson for kids.
For the “House”, we wanted a celebrated mom, one who had a background as a leader, since calling a strike would require the heft of an authority figure. Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder is not only a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, she’s a former presidential candidate, and was the first mom to serve on the U.S. House Armed Services committee. Pat was literally a House mom, and her memoir “24 Years of House Work… and the Place is Still a Mess” was a complementary metaphor for our story. She was not only the perfect choice because of her background, but Pat excelled with the narration, and has received numerous plaudits for her work.
The book app has become a hit! We’ve heard from scores of moms who say their kids not only enjoy the story, but have taken to actually cleaning their rooms! And, we have some wonderful ideas about other venues and ways to re-tell the exemplary tale, as well as other stories that teach children valuable lessons in fun ways.
Now, at the risk of sounding like an iconic actor who just spoke to a piece of furniture, I recently looked around my own home at all the appliances, fixtures, and at the loving walls that embrace my family, and for a moment felt a debt of gratitude from my own house’s “troops”. Based on our “conversation”, we’ve decided to call off a strike – for now!
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Rania Ajami is the Founder and Director of Jumping Pages, spearheading the production of the first two critically acclaimed children’s book apps: “David and Goliath for the iPad” and “The House that Went on Strike.” She has been featured recently on Appolicious and Wired for the visionary approach to her work. Rania is an award-winning film writer and director, garnering awards for her full-length feature “Asylum Seekers”, documentary “Qaddafi’s Female Bodyguards” and short-film “Katalog”.