‘The Ugly Bugly’ goes interactive: Beloit author's book has iTunes version
BELOIT Traditionally, children’s books have been enjoyed best while sitting with an adult and sharing page after page.
But that was then, in the days when books only came on printed pages.
Nowadays, with the explosion of electronic readers, the world of children’s books has tapped into a new world of creativity and interactivity.
Beloit author Barbara Meade’s book, “The Ugly Bugly,” is one example.
Originally published in 2010, the richly illustrated story of a caterpillar who goes into a cocoon and then transforms into a beautiful butterfly quickly sold out of the initial run of 50 copies.
Recently, however, Meade has made the book available on iTunes in versions for the iPad and iPhone that included a variety of new interactive features.
The iTunes version includes a voice-over option in which a narrator reads the book and a let-me-read option in which someone can record themself reading the book. The iTunes version also has a paint-me option, which allows children to electronically color the pages, as well as a puzzle-me option where children can design the pages as in a puzzle.
“For teachers in the classroom, this is a good interactive (program) for the kids,” Meade said. “Some classrooms have devices for the kids to download these books.”
Meade credits her son, James Meade Jr., with working through the technical details to get the book published in a digital version.
Meade said she and her son had worked on several projects together before he passed away last October at the age of 34. She said her son was studying computer graphic animation at a college in Minnesota.
“My son and I discussed how neat it would be if we could get it on computers where kids could do puzzles, and this does that.”
“We had 50 copies printed originally and they’re all gone, so we’re trying to get some more printed, and we sold about 70 copies on iTunes so far,” Meade said.
Meade said she received an email message from a woman in Slovakia whose children had read the book.
“Dear Barbara, thank you for the beautiful children’s book, ‘The Ugly Bugly,’ that we received via my mom, Bernie Hebb,” Lisa van Vuuren of Slovakia wrote in the email message. “My daughter Elise, age 10, and son Samko, age 7, really enjoy the book.”
“I thought it was kind of neat that the book went all the way over to Slovakia,” Meade said. “(The woman) got it from her mom, and the kids just loved it.”
Although Meade said it took her only about a day to write the story, she and her son spent a lot of time on the artwork. She said she made models of the characters, then took photographs, which her son scanned into a computer.
She said her son also incorporated the background graphics and the texts onto a computer.
“If you see any stars or the moon in the background, he put those in with the computer,” Meade said. “Then he typed in the text that I had written, then he put it on a disk, and it was sent to the publisher.”
“We had done a manual (for a company) and a couple other projects. We did a lot of work together before we worked on the book,” Meade said. “We had five other books that we were going to work on.”
Besides her writing and artwork, Meade also operates JBJ Rentals with her husband, James Meade Sr.
Meade mostly is known for her artwork. She has been featured in more than 30 galleries and has participated in several art shows. Her work also has been featured at the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator.
Meade’s murals have gone on everything from garage doors to Parkview High School. She has worked on watercolor paintings, sculptures, pen and ink drawings and woodworking projects. Several of her pieces have been featured in national magazines. Her cartoon strip, “Kristy and Ralf,” has been published in On the Rock magazine.
“(Artwork) is kind of challenging. I like a challenge,” Meade said. “It’s kind of relaxing. When my kids were in school, when they went to bed at night, I would stay up and do my artwork. It’s more of a hobby than a relaxation thing.”
Meade said it might take her several weeks before she completes a project.
“You always want to get things just right. You think, ‘This river doesn’t look quite right’ or ‘This mountain doesn’t look quite right,’ and you got to work on it,” Meade said. “I don’t know how you know when you’re done, but you just do. I think people, in general, are all creative. Some people like to cook or do knitting.”