The Slightly Annoying Elephant: First ever ‘book in a widget’ for HarperCollins’ latest iBooks Author title

The Slightly Annoying Elephant by David WalliamsWe’re delighted today to talk about the latest iBooks Author project we’ve been working on with HarperCollins Children’s Books.  Published on iTunes this week is a new Multi-Touch book written by best-selling children’s author David Walliams and illustrated by artistic genius Tony Ross. ‘The Slightly Annoying Elephant’ is the magnificently warm and funny story of a little boy called Sam who is amazed to find a rather annoying elephant on his doorstep.

See The Slightly Annoying Elephant eBook on iTunes

The eBook was created in-house by the Bookry team and as always, we have pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with iBooks Author. The picture book is crammed full of animations and sounds plus amazing new widgets with reader interaction and personalization. The digital book includes the following 4 sections:

  1. ‘Read to Me’ – story with narration by Walliams, auto-animations and interactivity.
  2. ‘Read Myself’ – auto-animations and interactivity.
  3. Activity pages – with jigsaws, matching pairs, coloring-in and two custom activities.
  4. Grown Ups – a section for parents to manage Reader Cloud saving and sharing, plus a copy of the personalized ‘adoption’ certificate.

The book has been an absolute pleasure to work on and we’re very excited to tell you more about the groundbreaking iBooks Author ‘firsts’ we have achieved with it:
Main Contents page and 1st Story Widget page1) First ‘Story Widget’ (book in a widget)

HarperCollins wanted to create an App-like experience for readers with slick page turning, fun animations and user interactions. We were able to fulfill these requirements by wrapping the main story in one single widget.  The individual ‘Story Widget’ pages were created in HTML5 using Tumult Hype, to which we have added smooth page transitions, sound support and enhancements for iBooks Author. Every page of the story features auto-play animations, narration (read by David Walliams himself with hilarious extra sound effects, jokes and funny voices!) as well as reader tap animations and sounds.

2) First Cross-Widget Reader Personalization
To further engage the reader in the world of The Slightly Annoying Elephant, we introduced a number of elements to the book that can be personalized by the reader, which is another first for iBooks Author.  These include:

  • Add reader’s name – Readers can tap on the ‘This Book Belongs to’ page at the beginning of the Story Widget and add their name so that it appears there and on their ‘Adoption’ certificate.
  • Take and place a photo – Readers tap on an image in the story, such as a photo frame on a wall, to take a photo using the iPad’s camera. The photo then instantly appears in the frame. Alternatively readers can select a photo from their iPad’s photo stream to place in the story.
  • Activity widget picture placement – From Bookry’s Sketchpad widget, of which there are three in the Activities section, readers have the ability to save their coloring-in pictures and place them in the main Story Widget e.g. in a picture frame on a wall.

Pages with personalization and tilt activated animation3) First Tilt and Shake Animations in an iBooks Author Widget  
On some pages of the main Story Widget, the reader can tilt and shake the iPad to activate an  animation.  For example, they can tilt a picture of the elephant in a bath to see the bath water move from side to side and shake the iPad to make hats fall off the elephants!

4) First Cross-book Widget Locking
There are two areas of the book that are locked, which again, is another first for iBooks Author.  The reader must complete the main Story Widget once to access their personalized ‘Adoption’ certificate, which can be found in the Grown-Ups Widget.  Also, to unlock the ‘Trumpet Chorus’ bonus activity in the Activities section, they must read through the main Story Widget and tap on specific objects – sort of like a picture treasure hunt!

Locking on the Trumpet Chorus Widget and Unlocking in the Story Widget5) Grown-Ups Widget
We’ve had a parent lock facility on our Reader Cloud service for some time, but HarperCollins have used it to full effect in this book to ensure that young readers cannot share or save any data entered into the book without help from an adult (by entering a 4 digit code).  Also, in the Grown-Ups section of the book, adults can create a Reader Cloud account to save their child’s coloring-in pictures or jigsaw puzzles – one click of the Reader Cloud icon in these widgets saves all data entered into that widget and all other widgets in the book.  Similarly, signing-out of Reader Cloud clears all widget data from the book, so that another reader can start reading the book again from the beginning. Finally, the Grown Ups section is where readers can find their personalized ‘adoption’ certificate which they can share by email (e.g. to print out), Twitter, Facebook and Evernote.

Other Bookry Widgets Engage and Stimulate Young Readers
We also created two custom play-based learning activities for the book using Hype.  These are ‘Trumpet Chorus’ which is a sort of elephant piano, and ‘Jumbo Workout’, where the reader can make the elephant the elephant strut his stuff to the accompaniment of flashing disco lights and dance
music. The book also includes jigsaws created using Bookry’s Drag and Match widget, matching pairs puzzles created using Bookry’s Memory widget, and three coloring pictures created using Bookry’s Sketchpad widget. Readers can also receive live updates on news and events from courtesy of Bookry’s Browser widget.

Parental lock on Sketchpad and Jisgaw created with Drag and MatchFinally……
We have had tremendous fun creating this eBook and it has presented us with many challenges along the way. We hope to have shown just how versatile iBooks Author can be, and that there is a cost-effective alternative to Apps for publishing great eBooks.  This supports the Bookry vision of bringing App-quality functionality into books, rather than making readers leave books to access content in different Apps.  We really hope that we have achieved this with The Slightly Annoying Elephant, and we hope it will give young readers worldwide hours of fun!

Thanks / Credits for ‘The Slightly Annoying Elephant’ eBook

Creative lead, animation & additional artwork: Susan, Bookry
eBook build and widgetry: Rhys and Tom, Bookry
HTML5 Animation Software: Tumult Hype
Sound Effects: Sound Jay
Additional Sound Effects from: Free SFX