Little Rooster and His Diamond Halfpenny – An experimental interactive book by MOME TechLab

One of the research topics of the Lab is interactive books. The touch display of the emerging hand-held devices provide a multitude of possibilities to make illustrations move – either by the activity of the reader (including toddlers who cannot read at all), or automatically. What makes an interactive book „good”?

  

 

In what ways can the interactions strengthen   – or destroy –  the experience of story- telling, the joy for reading,  the comprehension of the text? What can be the style of illustration, if it is to animated, and has to live on a device, not on pages of a book? We are seeking answers for these and many similar questions, in order to find out the potentials of the new genre of the interactive book. 

To begin with, we prepared for 6-8 year old kids an interactive version of a well-known Hungarian folk tale, published by László Arany. After having analysed dozens of interactive book titles in the app stores, we put forward the following goals for ourselves:

 
    1. The illustrations should be of outstanding quality, original in style, different of the ruling vector graphics style.
    2. The „interactives” should underpin the story, its events – by letting the child to re-act the major elements in the narrative.
    3. Let us experiment with different modalities (actually, in this tale we used only touches and shake.)
    4. The interaction possibilities should be designed according to some logic, such that the child can discover them easily.
    5. In the entire process of designing and testing the illustrations we consciously aim at supporting the text comprehension of the child.

By and large, we succeeded in fulfilling the above objectives. Some decisions were taken in course of the design process, seeing the first results. The almost complete lack of colours is the result of such an „on the fly” decision. The drawings themselves turned out to be so rich in detail, that none of the visual design experts felt like adding colours – with which we did some experiments, however. The archaic-looking images seem to survive well on a high-tech surface.

The design of the typo of the textual part is a result of several discussions. With some fragments in bold or in red, we wished to make the text itself attractive, and, on the other hand, to emphasize the actions which may be re-played with the illustrations.

All the above statements, so far, reflect the opinion of us, the designers, and of our consultant experts in typography, pedagogy, psychology. The real question is: Do these decisions impress kids, our targets? Have we reached our ultimate goal: Do kids read the text too, and with more pleasure than in a traditional book?

After a complex testing period we have launched a new version of the app. You can find it on our download pages.

                

The application is available for free on Google Play and at App Store in English, German and Hungarian.

You can follow the news, see photos and more on the Facebook page of Little Rooster.

 Werkfilm

Creators:
Illustration: Barbara Szepesi Szűcs
Animation and programming: Dániel Karasz
Narration: Csaba Lázár, James Plaistow

Sound design: Gábor Nagy
Project leader: Zsófia Ruttkay

Project manager: Zsolt Sárközi

MOME – MOME Creative Technology Lab – 2013

The app was prepared as part of the „Research of Interactive Children Books” project of the MOME Nonprofit Kft.  It was realised with the support of the National Chief Architect Office of the Ministry of Internal  Affairs.