Friday, December 9, 2011

Make a Symme-TREE: a free Winter or Christmas holiday tree printable activity

I’ve been busy in the last few days making activity pages for my spring 2012 book, Seeing Symmetry. There is a very cool site called Teachers Pay Teachers that has about a zillion free and paid lesson plans, slide shows, and other classroom materials. Students can make a symmetrical Christmas holiday or winter tree out of squares and rectangles with this printable activity. They measure and mark a line of symmetry on construction paper then cut out, sort, and arrange the shapes. The snowflakes will help them center each shape along the line of symmetry. It’s great for math centers and instructions are included. To download this FREE 3-page PDF, please click to visit my “store.”

Cover shows coloring example
Also available is this FREE line symmetry cowboy boot printable coloring page.

The idea is for students to color in each boot so they are mirror images of each other.  Complete directions are included.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cowboy boot line symmetry coloring page

Saddle up for a fun way to explore line symmetry…if you click on the low-res image above, it'll go to my web page where you can download the high-res PDF. The idea is that students color the boots identically as mirror images. So, if the heel is brown on one boot, the heel is brown on the other boot. Simple counting questions reinforce the symmetry concept that if one boot has 3 big stars, the other boot must have 3 big stars also.

This activity page is adapted from my upcoming spring 2012 picture book, Seeing Symmetry. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to draw a Thanksgiving turkey

And a symmetrical one, at that:

Based on my Spring 2012 book, SEEING SYMMETRY (Holiday House). To visit the book’s page on my web site, click here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 24, 2011

My turtle book talk made with the Explain Everything app

Did you know there is a way to do a screen capture on your iPad? The Explain Everything app records what you do inside it such as drawing on an image, using a virtual laser pointer, and rotating/enlarging/shrinking an image as well as your narration. Here is an example:
Here is how I made the video:

1) The box turtle photo was on my desktop computer, so I emailed it to myself, saved the image to the iPad camera roll, and cropped it using the free Adobe Photoshop Express app.

2) I opened my picture book Tracks in the Sand in the iBooks app, and took a screenshot of the spread I wanted. You can take an iPad screenshot by briefly pressing the round Home button and the Lock button at the same time. The resulting image ends up on the Camera roll in the Photos app. I cropped it a little bit to get rid of the iPad info bar on top because it was unnecessary as well as confusing.

3) The third image is a jpeg of the iBooks cover of Tracks. It’s a reasonably big image so it won’t get blurry when it’s enlarged.

4) In the Explain Everything app, I imported the three images and arranged them in starting position: the box turtle was on top, the sea turtle was underneath, and the book cover was shrunk down in the lower right corner.

5) Making sure the laser pointer button was selected, I pressed Record. When I was finished with the box turtle photo, I deselected the laser pointer button, used a “pinch” to shrink the photo, then moved it to the lower left corner, revealing the sea turtle illustration.

6) After selecting the laser pointer again, I proceeded with the rest of the talk.

7) Exporting the movie to YouTube took about 30 minutes total because the file was first compressed then uploaded automatically.

I heard about the Explain Everything app (and other iPad screen capture options) on Langwitches Blog, which is dedicated to 21st century skills and technologies. The hardest thing about making this video (besides figuring out what to say and not flubbing it) was creating a quiet place to make the recording. The refrigerator was rumbling, the cat was meowing, the birds were chirping…I even had to chase away a pair of squirrels who were scolding the cat through the patio screen. And then there were the lawn mowers(!) The best place turned out to be in our closet where the clothing helped to muffle outside sounds.

I hope this info has been useful…have a productive week!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sea turtle resource roundup

From Tour de Turtles site
To help celebrate the new digital edition of Tracks in the Sand, I dug around online for some resources to help primary kids learn about our flippered friends. :
Click image to download PDF
  •  The original edition of Tracks is out of print but is still widely available in libraries.
Hope this list is helpful. If you know of other good resources, please leave a link or other info in the comments.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tracks in the Sand now on the #iBookstore!

After being stuck in my flat files for too long, my sea turtle picture book is back in the swim of things again.

Here is the iBooks preview page …if you’re using an iPad to read this blog post you can download a free sample right away.

Or, later on you can open your iBooks app, click on the Store button and search on Tracks in the Sand. Eventually I’d like to make this book available on other tablets/formats, but this is a start.

Also, this page on my web site has a coloring page to download.

So now the question is, what will my next digital project be…?

Toodleloo for now!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ebook in the works

This is the more or less final cover for the digital edition of Tracks in the Sand, my picture book about sea turtles. To see the jacket of the print edition plus a close up of one of the baby turtles, click here.
The book had to be redesigned to fit on the iPad, so it needed a new cover as well. I’m excited about making this book available again, hopefully it will be soon. Currently I’m working on getting it into an iBooks format that allows full-bleed images (i.e. fixed-layout EPUB).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Easing for animations demo

While learning how to use DIY app software, I’m running across quite a few things I know very little about, such as animation. A simple type that moves an image in a straight line is called a linear animation. The Photoshop plug-in Kwik has quite a few ways to create variation with easing. Easing changes the speed and other aspects of how the image moves from point A to point B.

The easing options have interesting names such as InExpo and inOutElastic. For the inexperienced, their descriptions can be a little tough to visualize and differentiate, such as:
inOutExpo: starts motion from a zero velocity, accelerates, then decelerates to a zero velocity using an exponential easing equation.

As opposed to:
OutExpo: starts motion fast and then decelerates motion to a zero velocity as it executes.

Being a visual person, I’ve been making a demo app to see the various features in action. This video shows all the easing methods (plus 2 widgets because there was some extra room):

Aside from the easing method selected, all other aspects of the animation are the same for each one. The video is a little jerky but it gives the idea. For a interactive demo of easing options on the web, check out this page.

I hope this is helpful to certainly is for me, at least.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cartoon bunny drawing tutorial

Kids love to watch me (or any artist) draw and usually get busy afterwards creating their own artwork. Here is a step-by-step drawing of a comical rabbit character:


Sunday, July 31, 2011

DIY app software Kwik tutorial: making a butterfly fly

The short clip below was made with the Photoshop plug-in Kwik and previewed using Corona. Basically, the art is in layers in PS, the animation and interactivity is added using Kwik, then the app can be previewed in the Corona simulator. Once the app is complete, it can be uploaded to the various app stores. More details on all that can be found on

I drew and painted the art in Illustrator and Photoshop. Here are the steps to make the animation:

I made 6 images of the butterfly with the wings squinching in then out again, saved in PNG format. The images must be named like this: Name_1.png; Name_2.png, and so on. These will create the “movie clip” that will run in a loop to create the flapping motion. [Note: these 6 images could have been on a sprite sheet as an alternative method.]

The artwork elements were sized for a 1024 X 768 pixel document @132 pixels per inch to fit an iPad screen.
The first butterfly image was placed as a layer in the Photoshop file, along with the hibiscus, bushes, and background. A new Kwik iPad book project was made using the layered Photoshop document.

I selected the butterfly image layer, then moved it off screen in the lower left corner. This was the starting position so the butterfly can fly into the screen.

In the Kwik panel, I clicked the Add Animation icon (circled in red):
A dialog box comes up with quite a few options, so here we go (numbers refer to image below):

1 I changed the animation name to get rid of the random numbers Kwik generates.

2 Type: From the drop down menu, Movie Clip was selected.

3 First File: The movie clip will replace the butterfly layer. I used the Browse button to navigate to the first of the 6 images. Kwik will automatically bring in the rest.

4 Image Width/Height: The numbers were obtained from the first butterfly image.

5 Number of Images: In this case there are 6 images i
n the butterfly wing flap loop..

6 Loop: It’s hard to know how many times the wings will need to flap, so I just entered any number than adjusted it later to arrive at the number of 42. Most of the remaining numbers are a result of tweaking after watching the preview.

7 End Position: Once you start moving the x and y sliders, the butterfly can be seen in the PS document (remember, it had been offscreen.) X controls the horizontal axis, Y is vertical.

8 Duration: This controls how long it takes the butterfly to go from off screen to its final position.

9 Starts: This animation starts as the page loads (as opposed to being triggered by a button.) The delay is 1 second so it’s not too abrupt.

10 Easing: There are several methods that change how the butterfly goes from start to end position. Some go past the end point, some bounce, some speed up or slow down, etc.

11 Loop: This refers only to the path the butterfly takes from start to end position, not how its wings are looping as in step 6. It loops once meaning the animation runs once. If “forever” is checked, the butterfly will disappear and fly in from the corner over and over.

12 Rotate: It is set to 20% so the butterfly starts with a vertical orientation then makes a slight turn to the right by the end of its path. However, the path itself is a straight line.

So, this seems like a lot of stuff, but it starts to make sense after you do it a few times.

Additional notes:

Sometimes it’s a little tricky to reopen the animation dialog box to tweak these numbers. You have to double click it, but sometimes it doesn’t work right away.

The End Position sliders sometimes don’t update the image on the screen, but by clicking back and forth from the x and y boxes, it usually will.

I used Screenflow to record the animation in the Corona simulator. Love it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Testing App-creation software: a Kwik test

Here is a short video “screen test”  I made to try out DIY software for creating picture book apps. The software is a Photoshop plug-in called Kwik, here is the link to their site. It’s nice to be able to create the art and add the interactivity all in Photoshop.

The idea is that this clip shows just the start of what will happen on this page. After the Hen and Rooster shrink down, the rest of the background elements move in. Or at least that’s the plan right now! This sequence is probably too fast, but it’s easy to make adjustments.

Thanks for watching. : )

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Picture Book Apps: New Options for Content Creators

As part of the Digital Media track of the June 25th Mid-Year Workshop for the Florida SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators), I’ll be speaking about picture book apps. The other speakers will be editor, publisher, and author Emma Dryden of DrydenBooks, publishing veteran and agent Rubin Pfeffer (East West Literary Agency), animator Curtis Sponsler of AniMill (The Animation Mill), and moderator and author Joyce Sweeney. Below are the notes and links from my presentation.
Illustration was adapted from Look at My Book: How Kids can Write and Illustrate Terrific Books
A quick overview of terminology and the major ereader devices, ebookstores, and formats to discuss which are most suitable for novels vs. illustrated ebooks vs. picture book (PB) apps. Note: for a text-oriented book, convert it into the Kindle format (Amazon) and make sure the ebook has a professional-quality cover. Links to Kindle and other epublishing resources on the digital author blog E is for Book can be found here.

What is a picture book app? A list of the PB apps mentioned:

A comparison between a traditional print picture book versus a picture book app: for example, a PB app doesn’t usually have double-page spreads. The size of the iPad “page” is about 5 3/4" X 7 3/4" so it’s a smaller area to work with than the average print picture book.

Typical app actions include Show and Hide... how they might be used in the context of a story? For example, if the story called for flowers to bloom, the Appear action could be used to make that happen. Other actions include Rotate; Bounce; Assemble; Take apart; and Change name only a few.

Who and what can be interactive? In addition to characters, the flowers, furniture, rugs, buildings, hills, clouds, and even the words themselves can be part of the action. The above PB apps show a great deal of diversity in the amount and the nature of the interactivity.

Some great reasons to make a PB app are:
  • as a companion to a print book (related activities such as games)
  • to explore a niche market that traditional publishers aren’t interested in
  • to reissue an OP title
  • to test an idea for a book or series that may later have a print edition
  • to create something that would be impossible in any other form
More ideas are in my article on E is for Book.
The process of writing and illustrating a PB app is analogous to writing any picture book. The addition of Reader interactions, animations, audio, and other media add complexity and creative opportunities. The interactivity also needs to be designed. A discussion of the process of writing and illustrating a PB app.

What about the tech? Various partnerships with publishers, agents, and/or developers may be possible or the DIY app-maker can code their own or utilize book app-making tools. The following companies have early versions of non-coding DIY tools available or are in the process of creating them:

Each company has its own pricing structure, workflow, hardware requirements, and so on. Some are still in private beta so are not yet available. It is early days for DIY book app tools, so there are many issues still being worked out. The following may be helpful in evaluating a DIY book app tool:
  • What are the interactive features that can be incorporated into the app (such as Draggable objects the Reader can move; Narration; Animations; and so on)?
  • Check out the quality of the resulting app...try out an app made with the system to see how well it operates.
  • Hardware and software requirements.
  • Workflow- the system may be on your desktop, on your iPad, a plugin to Photoshop, or a web site. How does it require you to put together the images, audio files, animations, interactivity and so on.
  • Does it generate an accurate simulation so you can see how your app will operate?
  • Ease of most software, there will be a larger or smaller learning curve.
  • Look through any documentation (in my experience, not a strong point for most software developers). A given feature may be there, but can you figure out how to implement it?
  • How is your app sold... in your own App store account; under the company’s name; via in-app sales; on their web site; etc.
On Thursday, June 30th at 1 pm ET, there will be a free 1-hour webcast about digital book-making tools. It will be presented by author Pete Meyers; his last webcast was excellent so I’m looking forward to this one.

Another interesting type of digital book can be found on web sites such as A Story Before Bed. Adults and/or kids choose a title from the online store and using their own web cam, record themselves reading it. The video plays along with the book; check out the site to see how it works. Click here for an interview with the site’s founder.

E is for Book is a group blog of published children’s book authors writing about their adventures with digital books. There are 70+ articles currently posted, many consisting of first-person accounts of “going digital” with out-of-print as well as original titles.

If you Tweet, there’s a chat about PB apps every Sunday night at 9 PM ET under the tag #storyappchat. The transcript may also be read later in the week on the #storyappchat blog. There often are giveaways of new app titles. My Twitter name is @LoreenLeedy so feel free to send me a tweet.

Digital books offer authors and illustrators amazing new options to explore... I can hardly wait to see how things will evolve.


August 3, 2011
In the list of DIY app tool-makers above, I had originally included Push Pop Press, the developer of Al Gore’s ebook Our Choice. They had announced plans to make their interactive publishing system widely available. As of August 2nd, they have been acquired by Facebook. 

August 4, 2011
Added TouchyBooks to DIY list 

August 26, 2011
Added uTales to DIY list

Loreen Leedy
my web site

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    IRA 2011 panel discussion: Digital art & more

    On Monday, May 9th I’m one of the speakers from 3:00 to 5:45 for the International Reading Association Teachers’ Choices program along with authors Jon Scieszka, and Elizabeth Partridge. The overall topic is Integrating Technology and Reading, so I’ll discuss how I use digital tools to design and illustrate my picture books. These notes and links are for the attendees as well as anyone else who is interested.

    Drawing as Fast as Lightning fresh as a daisy
    The examples used are from Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story and The Shocking Truth about Energy.

    Why I use digital tools.

    The premise of Crazy Like a Fox is to illustrate the comparison used in the simile. When Rufus the fox is sleeping like a log, he turns into a log.

    The art in The Shocking Truth about Energy serves to bring dry facts such as “Energy can change into different forms” to life. For example, LIGHT from the Sun is changed by a tree into wood, which is a FUEL that can be burned, thus changing the energy into HEAT (as shown in an illustration on page 4–5 of the book.)

    Analogy: a typewriter is to a word processor as traditional art media is to digital illustration.

    My 4 Stages of Technology Adoption:
    I hate it.
    That’s interesting.
    Let me try that.
    I can’t live without it!

    Would Aaron Copland have used GarageBand?

    Early digital art to vector and painting software.

    My set-up, hardware and software. Mac Tower; NEC LCD monitor; Wacom tablet; Epson scanner; Sony camera; Epson printer; Photoshop; Illustrator; InDesign.

    The basics of brushes, color, and layers in Photoshop. Incorporating traditional media.

    From sketch to final art.

    Design and layout of pages in InDesign.

    The good news and bad news of creating artwork digitally.

    Finding image reference:
    Historical images from the Library of Congress American Memory collection.
    Clipart ETC: Over 60,000 free antique engravings for students and teachers.
    Tag Galaxy: A gorgeous animated search of Flickr images.
    My blog post about Tag Galaxy.

    Sneak peek of my next book, which is ALMOST finished. : )

    Here’s a tip about how to get circular images into an iPad Keynote presentation:
    Save round or otherwise irregular image with a transparent background in the PNG format.
    Email it to yourself.
    Open email on iPad, select and Save Image.
    Image will appear in Photo app on Camera Roll.
    Select image, then Copy.
    Paste it into the iPad Keynote app and transparency will be maintained (yay!)

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    A graphs fan

    This letter certainly made my day:

    Dear Loreen Leedy,

    I love the Book of the Great Graph Contest. I like the Graphs and the “Whose foot is the longest”! I Love the cookies and the Pictures by you too. Here are some Graphs I Liked: Where My Friends Live, and Do You Like Mud?



    Isn’t that fun...and so nice that it’s a math book that inspired Shayna’s enthusiasm. I have to say that the bar graph made of cookies is one of my favorites, too. Here is a link to The Great Graph Contest.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Can books play games?

    I’ve been enjoying reading a book about video, computer, and alternate reality gaming called Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. I saw her by chance on a segment of a show that plays with the notion of what is news, The Colbert Report (you have to watch a silly ad first, sorry):

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Jane McGonigal
    Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

    There are many concepts she discusses that could be incorporated directly into a book or story app or be a part of the extended world around one (e.g. via an author’s web site). My monthly post on I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) goes into more detail about it: Playing games with information.

    A few of the interactive, gamelike ideas that would be fun to add to my books include: 
    Layered images so readers could see under the surface of something
    Changing images to show sequence over time (e.g. metamorphosis)
    Non-linear paths through a book
    Interactive timeline with pop-up elements

    Pop-up word definitions
    Audio feedback to let readers know they’ve found right answer, etc.

    I would love to hear how authors or educators are tapping into the techniques of game design to engage readers, please let me know of any cool ideas.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    A Measuring Penny story

    Dear Loreen,
    Two days ago my husband and I were walking our Boston terrier, Stellaluna, in the Dallas City Park. Dallas is a small town in northern Oregon near Salem.

    During this walk a small boy and his mother approached us.  The young boy came right to me and said...“are you the lady who wrote Measuring Penny?”  

    I replied “No.” His mother then explained that you had written the book and he was very impressed with it. He thought I might be that lady.

    After hearing about the book, I told the young man that I would like to read it. I went to the library the next day and got a copy.  I found your book delightful and educational.  A “Delightful Book”, indeed!

    I explained to the little boy that our dog was named Stellaluna and asked if they were familiar with the story Stellaluna. They were.

    It was a wonderful experience for us. I thought you might like to know how your book continues to please young people.

    Warmest Personal Regards,

    Beverly H. Kentch, Kindergarten Teacher (retired)

    Post Scriptum:

    Notice that Stellaluna's Ears are greater than 1 cotton swab long!!

    Isn’t that a charming story and letter? I asked Beverly’s permission to post it here, many thanks to her. She’s right, Stellaluna’s ears are quite magnificent. (In the book, Penny’s ears are measured against a cotton swab). I also must mention that seeing Post Scriptum written out is a rare sight, love it!

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    How Andy Went to Mars

    Today’s post is in celebration of Share a Story ~ Shape a Future week. For more links to similar posts, please visit Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s blog.

    Once upon a time, 
    there was a little boy in the 4th grade who had loads of fun at school every day. He loved to sit in the last row of the classroom making his friends giggle and folding paper airplanes. Andy was reading well below grade level, but he thought:
    One day his mom gave him four quarters for book club day. On the way to school, he saw a pretzel vendor and bought one. Mmmm…Andy loved pretzels!

    After polishing off the salty snack, Andy sat at his desk studying the order form. With 50¢ left, he searched for a book that was cheap enough. A book called Mission to Mars looked okay and cost 49¢, so he ordered it. Then he folded a paper airplane and aimed it at a kid in the front of the room. The boys in the back row giggled as usual.

    A week or two later, the brand new book arrived. The story was about a family that moved to a Mars colony (wow!) The two children played hooky from school, snuck outside and got lost, wandered into a cave, and then met some (previously unknown) native Martians!

    Andy was amazed at how much fun a book could be and that it could bring a story to life in his mind. When that adventure was over, he had to have more. Books, books, books, he wanted to read more books. After a few months, Andy was reading at 6th grade level. He went on to attend collage, then graduate school, and earned his Ph.D.

    Nowadays, Andy is a research scientist whose lab is at the Kennedy Space Center. He investigates a variety of topics in astrobiology, which is: the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. (Quote is from NASA.) He even has a Mars chamber in his lab that simulates the conditions on the Red Planet.
    After Andy and I met and eventually married, one topic that often came up was “Why don’t we do a book together?” and “...about what?” One day the obvious solution occurred to us…Andy began downloading incredibly detailed NASA photographs taken on Mars and I started drawing characters to populate the barren landscape. The end result was our picture book Messages from Mars:
    The story takes place one hundred years in the future and stars a group of students that get to visit Mars. They explore the historic sites of the Viking, Pathfinder, and Spirit and Opportunity missions, and fly over many of the planet’s spectacular features such as the largest volcano in the solar system and a canyon as long as the United States is wide.
    So, because Andy read a book in the 4th grade that captured his imagination, not only did he get to go to Mars, so did I! You never know which book a child will fall in love with so it only makes sense to keep offering kids as many diverse options as there are stars in the sky.

    Happy Reading!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    A “highly recommended” review (yay!)

    My Teacher Is a Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Poems, Jokes, Riddles and Amazing Facts. Loreen Leedy (Author and Illustrator), Marshall Cavendish, 48pp, $17.99, 2010, ISBN 97807614557084.
    Gr 3-5–Fascinating facts and entertaining illustrations combine to make this trip through prehistory a fun adventure for all. The author not only includes fun facts about the earth’s formation and its first inhabitants, but also incorporates some of this information in the format of a poem and/or riddle within each spread, making it all the more eye-catching and memorable for young readers. The layouts are artistically appealing, and the placement of the animals and their related facts within each period gives the reader a better understanding of how life forms have evolved. Science teachers and school librarians will want to have this in their collection, not only because of the educational value of the information, but also because of its unique presentation of facts and the graphic illustrations and simple depictions of various life forms through the ages. Teachers can use this to show how poetry can be used across the curriculum. One of the most important features of this book is the inclusion of the fun-factor, but they will also seek it out as a resource for various areas of study.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
    Library Media Connection 
    Jan/Feb 2011

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    A flip-book preview of My Teacher is a Dinosaur

    Originally I created this to go on my web site, on this page. A little flip-book is a really great way to let people browse inside your book, and you can choose which pages to include. Click on the right corner below to see it in action. [Update: if you’re reading this in Google Reader or similar RSS reader and don’t see a little book with flippable pages, please click on the post title and visit the blog to see how the flip-book works.)

    So, how did I do this, you’re wondering? The book is laid out in InDesign CS4 and here are the steps:
    To add the page curl to all pages, in the menu bar choose Window> Interactive> Page Transitions, and a little palette will open up.
    From the drop down menu, choose Page Turn.
    Click on the little symbol on the lower right to apply the effect to all pages.
    In CS4 you can’t preview it (might be different in CS5.)

    Now it’s time to export it. Choose File> Export, type in a name for the flip-book, select the SWF format and a destination for the Flash file and hit Save. Next the Export dialog box comes up:
    I chose a 50% scale to reduce the size of the book, but other sizes will work so experiment. I wanted only a few pages, not the whole book, so Range is checked with the page numbers filled in. These were also checked: Spreads; Rasterize Pages; Generate HTML File; View SWF after Exporting (I’m not sure whether these all need be checked, really.) Be sure to check Include Page Transistions and Interactive Page Curl, obviously! The JPEG quality seems okay at Medium. If View SWF is checked, at least on my system it automatically opened in my web browser, Firefox. There you can play with the page turns and make sure the flip-book is working right.

    One little wrinkle is that this book has some white pages, and on top of a white web page, it’s impossible to tell where the page corner is (to activate the page flip.) So, before exporting it from InDesign, I added a light gray rectangular border to the pages 12-19 (visible in screenshot) so the corner would be visible against white. You may wonder why I didn’t export starting with page 12? If you do that, it exports the entire previous 2 pages, also.

    If you don’t typeset your own books (not many illustrators, do) it should be easy for the publisher to provide a SWF file, assuming they use InDesign.

    Then, how to get it on a web page? Naturally, that varies with the software used. In Dreamweaver, the SWF file is copied into the root file of the site. Then on the web page, draw an AP DIV box, and under file menu choose Insert> Media> SWF. Then, because the page flip extends outside of the dimensions of the book, I added about 60 pixels to the height of the bounding box. The flip-book will still work if you don’t do that, the animated pages will just be a little cut off.

    How did I get it onto this blog? Blogger won’t accept Flash directly, so the file has to be somewhere else (in my case, it’s on my web site.) In Blogger, I pasted this HTML code into the Edit HTML tab:
    <embed height="420" pluginspage="" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="576"></embed>

    You would have to replace my web URL and SWF file name with your own. Your Height and Width values probably will be different, too. This flip-book might be a little too big for my Blogger layout, but it’s perfect for my web site, so I left it as is. Hope the page turns work here on the blog, I’ll find out after this post is published!

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    My first ebook (sort of)

    In the last couple of years the discussion about digital books and story apps in the publishing world has been steadily increasing. It has seemed to escalate in the last few months...there are conferences, workshops, seminars, articles, you name it. 

    A group of authors including me had been talking about it privately on a listserv for a few months, then couldn’t resist it any longer and started a group blog called E is for Book. In less than a month we’ve had over 1,500 visitors which indicates there are many people who want to figure out how ebooks will affect the world of children’s books. The first post on the blog gives a good sense of the variety of topics we have been and will be talking about, including ereading devices, software for creating ebooks and apps, glimpses behind the scenes of making a particular title, and much more.

    One of the simplest types of digital book is a straightforward conversion of the print book into a digital format without adding additional interactivity or sound. This has been available for a long time, in the form of PDFs. The question is how to get them out into the marketplace. In talking with my publishers, one of the venues they’re working with is Follett Library Resources, which has an ebook section. I don’t have the technical specs yet, but apparently they are using the PDF format. So, since I do the InDesign layouts for my books anyway, it was very easy to add the jacket front and back as single pages, add “endpapers” to page 1 and page 32, and output a PDF. This is just a sample for the publisher and I to discuss, not anything final. But, it is exciting to be moving in this direction, because it will make books more accessible for schools that prefer digital technology for whatever reason.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    I’ve been podcasted(!) by Brain Burps about Books

    It was such fun to be interviewed by the delightful author-illustrator and podcaster Katie Davis on her weekly show about children’s book publishing, Brain Burps about Books. She has an engaging conversational style that is easy to listen to. The title of my episode is Eeeek! Ebooks which reflects the feelings of many authors, publishers, and readers about the topic of digital books. It can be a little confusing at times, but we did our best to give an overview of the current state of affairs for our kidlit peeps. The podcast is available in several ways (listed below.)

    The interview arose out of a project Katie and I and quite a few other authors have been collaborating on, a group blog about digital books called E is for Book. (There is also a link on the left sidebar of this blog.) Although digital books have been available for years, it hasn’t been a big issue for the children’s book biz until recently, in part due to the iPad’s release in April of 2010. The book apps especially have made picture book people sit up and take notice because the format allows for full-bleed art (i.e. artwork that fills the screen.) Recently, the iBooks format has been updated to allow for full-bleed art as well. This is one example of why the group of us decided to band together via E is for Book to figure out what the options are so we can stay informed. What is an ebook, the cost of making story apps, interactivity, ebook formats, and many other issues are what Katie and I talk about, and that we’ll be writing about on the group blog. By the way, there are several chapter book and YA bloggers, too.

    Without further ado, here are a few ways to get a copy of the podcast:

    The Brain Burps page on iTunes
    Episode Permalink

    Direct Download

    Katie’s Blog Post with Show Notes

    She has posted some excellent videos that show interactive story apps in action, so be sure to check them out.

    The podcast refers to this article I wrote for I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids):
    Authors & ebooks: 11 points to ponder.

    So enjoy listening and happy e-reading!

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