Witten and Illustrated by Michael Garland
Published by Giant Atom
Themes: pigs, greek myths, flying, believing in one’s dreams
Release Date: August 31st, 2011
Price: $ 0.99
App available at: Apple iTunes Store
A portly pig named Icarus Swinebuckle, from 18th century London’s East End, though a humble cobbler by trade, is obsessed with the notion of flying. Fully supported by his young son, Robin, and much less so by his practical wife, he spends the hours he should be mending shoes, working on his flying project. Despite a scary visit from Mr Gnawbone, his wolf landlord, Icarus pursues his dream, and unlike the original, this tale has a redemptive ending.
- Dreamlike computer generated illustrations
- Subtle animation and sound
- Pitch-perfect British accent narration
- 3 Puzzles and memory game
- Well-known classical music pieces to enhance different scenes
- Atomic Reader
Why I like this app:
This is a long story that is wonderfully crafted and intriguing. The 18th century London setting is masterful as is the choice of well known classical music to set the mood for different scenes. I could listen to the beautiful British narration for hours and I kept expecting Oliver Twist to show up in one of the scenes. This is a discreetly enhanced story that was originally a picture book published in 2000 that went out of print. The animation never distracts from the great storytelling (e.g. a scurrying, squeaking rat in the store room), and it almost runs like a mini-movie. I love the crowd scenes around the Thames, and of course the humor in the choice of a pig as the protagonist. The highlighted words make it a great read-along for young readers, and it also has the Atomic-reader – touch a word and hear it spoken… This is a thoroughly entertaining retelling of the famous myth and one I would happily re-read/listen to many times.
“I’ve come for the rent!” the wolf demanded in a voice like a rusty hinge.
Icarus popped to the surface like a fuzzy pink cork.
[JM] Michael, thank you so much for answering a few questions about this app. Is this your first app and who made the decision to transform the book into a story app?
[MG] Yes. The book was already out of print, so the rights had reverted to me. When an independent programmer/developer approached me, I thought it would be a great way to give Icarus Swinebuckle a second life.
[JM] Why the 18th century setting? (Which, by the way, I adore!)
[MG] I like period pieces. So I conceived the book in a time and location that would be fun and interesting to me to illustrate.
[JM] Why choose a pig to represent this arrogant mythical figure?
[MG] “If pigs could fly…” was the original inspiration. I thought it would be fun to combine that concept with the character Icarus from the Greek myth. I also though it would make sense to make the character of Icarus Swinebuckle a cobbler, because a cobbler is very earth-bound profession, even though Icarus’s only real aspiration is to fly.
[MG] Which of your other books do you feel would be well adapted to becoming an app?
[MG] An Elf for Christmas is also an app. Most all of my other books would well.
[JM] Could you see yourself ever creating a story specifically for the app format?
[MG] I have a few book proposals that I really love. If I don’t find a traditional picture book publishing deal, I might try to make an app. The problem is to make the app can be expensive and the retail price is low. The added cost of promotion is prohibitive.
The thing that authors and illustrators seem to be unaware of is the concept of infinite bookshelf. A traditional bookstore has limited shelf space. If your book is on it, the buyer can see your book and possibly buy it. The infinite bookshelf has an infinite amount of books. If you’re an independent developer, it’s up to you to promote your app and make it standout among the infinite amount of books that are constantly being put out.
[JM] I love the various classical musical snippets chosen. How much say do you have in this and the animation?
That was all the developer, Paul Scaturro from Giant Atom. He had a previous career in the music industry.
[JM] What are you working on at the moment, Michael?
I am just finishing a book I wrote and illustrated for Holiday House called Tugboat. I am working on an illustrated animal alphabet book by another author and new book proposal that I have written.
NB Authors with out-of-print books, this can be a super way of making these great stories accessible again to the public.