Icarus Swinebuckle – Interactive Picture Book

Spread the love

Icarus SwnbcklCVrTitle: Icarus Swinebuckle

Witten and Illustrated by Michael Garland

Published by Giant Atom

Category: Books

Ages: 5-8

Themes: pigs, greek myths, flying, believing in one’s dreams

back coverPlatform: iPad – (requires iOS 3.2 or later)

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.


Key Features:

  • 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: 

p 16-17 4-26-99This 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. p 20 21 4-26-99The 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.

Favorite lines:

“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.  

This entry was posted in App recommendation, children's books and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Icarus Swinebuckle – Interactive Picture Book

  1. If I had an iPad, I would buy this based on the title alone. What a wonderful title! The story and the enhancements sound fantastic, too, and the interview brought it all to life, so to speak. What an excellent way to give an out of print book new life. I appreciate that he mentioned the concern about price point. It is wonderful for consumers to be able to snap up apps and ebooks at very low prices, but it doesn’t do much for the authors and illustrators. Unfortunately, now that people have come to expect such low prices, how can it change?

    Great post, Joanna! Thank you!

    • Joanna says:

      I bought a mini iPad a month ago in order to review all these apps, Beth. It really is a catch 22 since the Angry Birds app came out a few years back and went viral free and then at a very low price. 🙁 These apps cost so much more than an eBook to make and the creators do deserve a better price.

  2. M.G. King says:

    Michael, your art is beautiful — who doesn’t love a flying pig?? Will definitely need to check out your app. Thank you for sharing about the app process.

  3. I have this app and it is very well done! Joanna you’ve done an outstanding job of reviewing its features. Michael, I enjoyed the interview a lot as I learned more about the mythical figure, Icarus. Brilliant to cast him as a pig. I enjoyed learning about the process of making an app and your candid remarks about the “infinite bookshelf.” I hope authors who read this interview will give thought to turning their out-of-print books into apps.

    • Joanna says:

      There are so many wonderful books out of print, that this can be a great way to give them fresh life for a new audience. I am glad you love this app, too, Pat.

  4. I HAVE to get this! I MUST get this! To iTunes! *cue the music!*

  5. Candilynn says:

    Fascinating post, Joanna! Icarus Swinebuckle looks delightful. 🙂

  6. We love the app at our house. Very interesting interview. And, so true about the infinte shelf and the infinite number of books. Of course, apps can “go out of print” if they don’t update with the technology. I’m glad you are exploring these books. We enjoy them in our house.

  7. What a beautiful looking book and wonderful story. Fascinating interview, thank you Joanna.

  8. Joanna says:

    You’re welcome, Diane. It’s always nice to hear a little from the author!

  9. Jaymie Shook says:

    I love that the inspiration is ‘when pigs fly’ 🙂 That’s great! Very creative. Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.