WAKE UP, SUN! is a Step Into Reading book. I’ve often said that during the six years I served on the Springfield, Missouri school board (1982-88) I only produced one work that was worth keeping, this one.
The first customer review that appeared on Amazon.com was by a parent who strongly objected about the farmer firing his shotgun into the air to frighten away what he thought was a fox in the henhouse. Here’s the comment. “If you don’t like to see guns pop up unexpectedly in children’s books then don’t buy this one. I was thoroughly disappointed to see a gun come into play towards the end of what was, until that point, a nice story.”
That set off a bit of a tempest in a teapot with such stalwart defenders of my story as this: “Farmer never actually fired the gun AT anything. Look at where he is pointing the barrel. To the sky. It was a scare tactic…and that was all. Let’s move into the real world people.” My favorite: “Guns don’t kill people. Malevolent cows with pitchforks kill people.”
WAKE UP, SUN! was illustrated by Hans Wilhelm and published in 1986. It just went into its 70th printing. Sales passed 1,000,000 copies quite a while back. Now and then my M.O.W. tells me I should write another story like WAKE UP, SUN! Yeah, right. I’m trying, lady.
I received nice news about my most recent picture book at Random. A MONSTER IS COMING! was released in 2011 and has been named to the annual Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list of titles of books published last year. MONSTER is in plenty of good company so I’m glad to be on the list. This was illustrated by Hans Wilhelm. It’s our second collaboration, the first being WAKE UP, SUN! That one came out in 1986 and is still going strong. Last year it passed the 1,000,000 mark in copies sold. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for something like that with our new effort!
To see all the titles in each of several categories, here’s the link.
sent me three questions for the basis of an interview, just three. But boy did they get me wound up! My responses took quite a while to complete but they reflect some of my best soul searching and advice and I hope you will visit her site to see the results and leave your thoughts. My thanks to Roxie for handling the interview so beautifully. Here’s the link. <a http://wp.me/pBU4R-T2
Today is a travel day. I leave this morning for IRA and am looking forward to seeing many friends there. Tomorrow I’ll participate in an all day institute called TEACHING READING THROUGH POETRY: THE PHONICS, FLUENCY, COMPREHENSION, AND MOTIVATION CONNECTION. This event will be co-chaired by Tim Rasinski and Alicia McCartney
Topic titles are, “How to turn Kids Into Poetry Readers (and Writers) (by making it fun!);” “Why Poetry to Teach Phonics?” “Why Poetry to Teach Reading Fluency?” “Poems for Multiple Voices — Performing and Writing;” “Poetry from the Voice of the Child;” “What Do You Do When Kids Memorize Their Poems?” “Putting Poetry at the Heart of the Classroom;” and “Putting it All Together: How Poetry Fits into the Whole Reading Curriculum.” I’ll try to take good notes and share some highlights when I get back to work.
My thanks to all the outstanding people who have appeared as my Featured Guests in recent weeks. When I have more time, I’ll repost their pictures and give links to their appearances. For now I’ll be content to list their names and the dates they were my guests. You can find them this way but I’ll try to make it easier later.
March 25, Hans Wilhelm
April 1, Kelly Milner Halls
April 8, Robin Brickman
April 15, Janet Wong
April 22, Jane Kurtz
April 29, Lois Ruby
May 6, Jean Stringam
A number of people are at work on their articles or responses so the coming weeks will certainly carry on the tradition.
Don’t forget, the word of the month is PROMISE.
REMINDER: Cutoff for March Word of the Month poems is today at 12:00 noon CST. Don’t be left out.
You are about to hear from one of the most popular creators of children’s literature in America, not to mention his legions of fans in Europe. My Featured Guest today, Hans Wilhelm, has taken the plunge into the world of electronic publishing, apps and e-books and androids and all. What he has to tell us is fascinating. If you have had questions about this field, you are about to get an education! It’s all yours, Hans.
Q: Hans, you have a number of children’s books as apps and e-books available on the Internet. Tell us about your experience, beginning with what is an app?
A: An app is a software program developed specifically for the Apple products, like iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Children’s books apps don’t just show the pages of the book. These apps have advanced technological features such as word highlighting, sound, animation, and lots of other clever features to keep young readers enthralled for hours on end. But there are also other similar programs, like Androids that are designed for non-apple products.
Q: And e-books?
A: Yes, e-books work on virtually all platforms. But e-books usually just show the illustration with the text. They don’t have sound or animation. Several years ago I put many of my out-of-print books on the Internet as e-books for free. With all the school budget cuts it was my way of helping and thanking teachers for having shared my books in their classrooms for so many years. Now they can show these books via Smartboard or computer totally free to their classes. Actually, anybody can read these books for free. The website is http://www.ChildrensBooksForever.com.
Q: So why did you also enter the apps market?
A: iPones or iPads are such cool tools. I saw how mesmerized these young kids are by such gadgets and I wanted to reach them with my stories. You give a two-year old your iPhone and you’ll never get it back! What better and direct way is there than bringing the book right into their little hands via a computer? I also wanted to make my stories more fun, like giving them sound, animation and other features.
Q: How did you go about it?
A: Well, it was quite a task since I understand very little about computers. But I embraced this new challenge wholeheartedly because I knew it was a great opportunity to learn something new.
I decided to start first in Europe where my animated TV character WALDO is very popular. After an extensive search I found MCB (Mobil Children’s Books) a dynamic apps publisher with whom I published my first 9 apps in Germany.
Q: What was the working process to create these apps with them?
A: The first thing I did was to buy and download countless children’s book apps to see what is on the market and what is technically possible. I then decided which of my books would work best on this new platform. Since these books had already been published before, I had all the images on my computer or on CDs. Now I needed to decide how to crop these images, where to place the text, length of text, and lots of other things to make each page visually work on the computer, iPad or iPhone. And then I forwarded these images per Internet to my German app publisher.
Q: You said that your apps have also other features.
A: That’s true. One of these features is sound. The readers can either read the books themselves or the story can be read to them. I took a very daring approach and decided to read all my stories myself. I guess my apps here in America are the only children’s book apps with a German accent. I thought it would make the stories more special and fun
Recording my voice onto the computer was another fascinating learning experience. I had to get myself a very good microphone and learn to record my speech on the “Garage Band” program. It took several takes before each book was perfectly recorded. Again, the sound recordings were transmitted to the apps publisher via the Internet.
Q: You said you now have also apps here in America. How did you find the US app publisher?
A: This was not a difficult choice for me because I wanted to be with a very innovative company that has been in this field for some time. I decided to partner with “MeeGenius!” which has been the consistent leader on Apples top rated list for children’s books apps. I also had some earlier working ties with the company and knew the founders. It took them several months to build the apps for the first 6 books that I launched with them. (See press release: http://www.hanswilhelm.com/hans2pages/meegenius.html)
Q: Do you think all author and illustrators should make their books into apps and androids?
A: Not necessarily, because most big traditional publishers are now working hard on turning their existing books into apps, androids and e-books. I know that Scholastic will release my NOODLES book series also electronically. Random House will do the same with the books I have with them. So chances are that many of the books which the authors or illustrators presently have in print will also be made available electronically by the publishers for them.
I only did it myself because I think it is a wonderful way to keep my out-of-print books alive and it is an exciting challenge to specially write and illustrate for the computer market. It is a different medium to paper and has lots of possibilities with new features added every day. We are only at the beginning stage of this new world on e-publishing.
Q: What was your biggest challenge converting your books into apps?
A: Time. To prepare these apps and record the sound is very time consuming and when at the same time you have dead lines to fulfill for your other books there is a lot of pressure. But I am glad I am now part of this market and I look forward to creating many more apps in the future.
To learn more about Hans and his work, visit him on his website at www.hanswilhelm.com.
Hans, as always it has been my pleasure.David
I’ve had the pleasure of working on two books with Hans Wilhelm, WAKE UP, SUN! in 1986 and A MONSTER IS COMING! which came out last month; both titles are with Random House. Naturally, I asked Hans if he would be one of my Featured Guests, and he agreed. Tomorrow you will see Hans and read a stimulating interview about his journey into electronic books. Don’t miss it! For now, here’s a brief bio about Hans.
With over 42 million books in print, Hans Wilhelm is one of America’s most read author/illustrators of children’s books. Many of his 200 books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have become successful animated television series that are enjoyed by children all over the world.
His books have won numerous international awards and prizes, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Mazza Museum of Art, Dodd Center at the University of Connecticut, Kerlan Collection at University of Minnesota, de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Hans was born in Bremen, Germany. He lived for many years in Africa before moving to America. He now lives in Weston, Connecticut in an old farm house where a converted horse stable now servers as his studio.
“Sharing hope, joy, and confidence with others are the main reason I create books,” says Hans, “If I can bring a little light into the lives of children, I am a very happy person.”
More on www.hanswilhelm.com and www.ChildrensBooksForever.com