From its arrival in the app store last October, PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit has been wowing readers and critics alike. Kirkus is no exception—we’re proud to award it a starred review. With its clean design, use of virtual pop-up features like pulltabs and obvious respect for the original, it takes an acknowledged, beloved classic and brings it to the iPad medium seamlessly.
Calvin Wang, founder and CEO of Loud Crow Interactive, the app’s developers, took some time to talk to Kirkus about how PopOut! Peter came to be and what’s coming up next.
How did you select The Tale of Peter Rabbit for your first app?
Well, in founding Loud Crow, one of our philosophies is to make the digital experiences authentic to the original works as much as possible. And we wanted to put out a product that would reflect this. We felt The Tale of Peter Rabbit was an excellent choice, because it is not only one of the best-known children’s classics, but it would allow us to showcase what we can do. We wanted people to feel like they were reading a book from 1903 but in a digital medium that would also provide some additional interactive elements.
I love the fact that the landscape orientation of the iPad pretty much matches exactly the size of the original book when it’s opened. Were you conscious of this?
We experimented with the layout and found that keeping the two-page spread was essential to the PopOut! version. Beatrix Potter designed her books with a purpose, and the story isn’t the same without that layout.
Bless your souls.
Having said that, we also chose not to include the blank pages that are found in the original.
Were you ever nervous about how people would receive this oh-so-classic book in electronic, enhanced format?
I think any time you are taking something as well-known and revered as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, there is always a risk that some people will feel that we are tampering with a historical work. But that actually gave us more motivation to try and create something special that everyone would come to appreciate. This is a big challenge with publishing today. Digital platforms can offer so much more to the reading experience, but that isn’t always a good thing. Finding that balance among reading, entertainment and learning can be a tricky proposition, not to mention ensuring that the final experience is one that people find compelling.
You use the model of a pop-up book—a traditional print medium—to frame your digital enhancements. Was that done to ease traditionalists like me into the brave new world?
(Laughs) Being a traditionalist is a relative thing, isn’t it? Actually, the pop-up concept is one that I can thank my daughter for. Watching her and her friends play with a cardboard pop-up book gave me the idea and inspiration to try and re-create this in a digital medium.
Your first book was Pater Rabbit, and your second is The Night Before Christmas, with illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Can you share what’s next?
We have a few book projects on the go at the moment. One is a continuation of the PopOut! brand, and if you liked Peter Rabbit, then you’re sure to enjoy this one. The second is a brand new imprint that we will be launching in the New Year. I can’t say much more than this except that it is an extremely exciting product line that we are working on and more information will be shared in the coming weeks with the world.
What are you reading with your kids these days?
My daughter has a voracious appetite for reading and enjoys any number of books at bedtime. I guess you could call me a traditionalist, because I tend to share with her the classics that I grew up with, such as Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George and Dr. Seuss. And she seems to love them as much as I do. We also love the Sandra Boynton books, and I am starting to read those with my 18-month-old son.
That’s part of the allure of reading—there are so many great books out there. And there is no shortage of captivating stories from talented authors/illustrators that are being published every day. One book that really impressed me was The Red Book [by Barbara Lehman, a 2005 Caldecott Honor]. No text, yet the story is wonderful.
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PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Loud Crow Interactive / October 2010 / $4.99