Monday, November 29, 2010

Presenting "Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle"

“Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle” is now available in the Amazons Kindle Book Store for $2.99. This book has thirty rhymes and about forty different images. This is not intended to be a complete anthology of all know Mother Goose Rhymes but a sampler which allows a parent or grand parent to introduce the Kindle to their children and explain that the Kindle is just another way that books are presented.

The only way to help your children across the digital divide which will separate the “haves” from the “have nots” is get them familiar with computer tools as young as possible. Older children who know that the Kindle is a book can download many of the classics for free.

It is unfortunate that more kindle book presenters are not incorporating the graphics that attract young people to reading. This book proves that it is indeed possible and if there is any great amount of interest, I will try to develop more picture books for Kindle targeted to the young readers.

So far the book has been receiving rave reviews for the intended purpose. It has allowed my daughter to demonstrate that the Kindle is really just a different way to present books. My Granddaughter's (4, 7 and 11) are very familiar with their computers for coloring applications, dressing fashion dolls, and playing games but have avoided the Kindle in favor of real books. Now they can understand that the kindle is a real book and as they grow out of picture books be ready for their own Kindles.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blanche Fisher Wright and Jerlyn Thomas.

Both artists of Mother Goose Rhymes were doing the best they could at the time when they designed their graphics for Mother Goose. When the Real Mother Goose was originally published in 1916, there was no television, colored movies or even colored photos, so the only method was printed books or individually painted pictures. Since book publishing was limited by the available range of colored inks at the time, the only truly bright color in the mostly pastel book illustrated by Wright is the color Red.

As an example of drawings by Wright, I am using the previously presented pussycat in both color and black and white so you can compare Jerlyn's vision of the rhyme with that of the Real Mother Goose published in 1916.
At the time Jerlyn started designing, their were 216 basic colors for web design and of course their was black and white for monochromatic monitors. Now there are millions of colors so I am sure if Jerlyn were to do the images over, they would be a lot different today. But I will leave that task to the next generation of designers as both Jerlyn Thomas and I move on with our lives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who is the Author of “Our Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle”?

The title of this post poses the question as to who is the Author of “Our Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle”. I am clearly the editor as I compiled and organized our edition and added editorial content. Jerlyn Thomas is clearly the illustrator as every image was done by her. It never crossed my mind that a body of literature developed from the verbal traditions of folklore needed to be attributed to any particular person. However, Amazon will not allow publication of a Kindle Book unless an author is specified.

I thought about using Mother Goose as the author but didn't want to make any mistakes that would aggravate the Kindle book reviewer and slow down publication of the the book. A little research of the Amazon Book Store shows that the most commonly listed author is Blanche Fisher Wright.

The difficulty with that historically and Intellectually is she didn't write the verses and she may not have existed. Seems that when you do a search for biographical information on the illustrator of a book which has sold 4 million copies, you cant find a birthday, place of birth or any other information to prove that she existed. This is for a person who lived and worked in the twentieth century, not a Roman historian who we seem to know more about.

One theory is that she may be Milo Winter who was a very famous illustrator of Children's books as he grew older but in his youth he did some beautiful drawings of bare breasted women. Perhaps his publisher thought it advisable to distance himself from Milo Winter and published the pictures under the name Blanche Fisher Wright. Seems early editions and many reproductions of the book include pictures signed by MW which is Milo Winter while identifying the illustrator as Wright. Of course the opposite theory is out there and that is that Wright used a masculine pen name for awhile because not many publishers were hiring female artists in 1916.

I tend to think that they are two different people particularly when you carefully compare the way they draw, hats, shoes, hair and glasses. They just seem to have two different styles. Of course, to confuse the issue, when you turn over the images drawn by Wright to examine her signature, the most prominent letters are the M (upside down W) and the three lines from B, F and g which form a W to yield a very recognizable MW which is the way Milo Winter signed his illustrations.

So in the end, our book lists Blanche Fisher Wright as the author even though she may not have existed and certainly did not write the Mother Goose Rhymes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kindle Picture Books for Children

All of the Graphics presented in “Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle” are just as Jerlyn drew them a decade ago. Some are line drawings, some are black and white and some contain vivid colors. An example of the vivid colors is the drawing for Pussy Cat shown below. The picture below has a 4” diagonal while an actual Kindle has a 6” diagonal which gives larger images and print.

Currently, the Kindle is not offered in a color version but I am sure one will come in the future and that's why all drawings are published in color. Meanwhile, the current version contains at least one graphic for each rhyme. Children as young as three will clearly comprehend that the kindle is a book they can use and read with parents and grandparents even if the pictures are in black and white.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Little Nanny Etticoat"

Developing “Our Mother Goose, A picture Book for Kindle” is bringing back a lot of fond memories. The project started in 2000 as a Web Site for kids and my artist was Jerlyn Thomas who was about 15 years old at the time. This scared me to death, as I had lived with my daughter, Dagny as she transitioned from 14 to 18 and it was not the easiest experience. Fortunately for me, Jerlyn was a delight to work with and I only saw her stubborn side one time and that is with the riddle “Little Nanny Etticoat”.

We had a simple rule to guide us in our efforts: “If Bill Gates could do it we could do it.” Failure was simply not an option. Since this riddle is particularly tough if you have never heard or read the solution, I though a big hint was in order and decided that a drawing of Nanny Etticoat should be morphed into the solution. The problem was that I had no shared language with Jerlyn to describe exactly what I wanted her to do. The only movie I could recall with a morph was Terminator 2 where the advanced metal droid kept morphing in and out of human form. Unfortunately, for me Jerlyn was about six when the movie was released and never saw it.

I had also seen documentaries on how Walt Disney made animated movies by slightly altering each static picture to give the illusion of movement when they were quickly displayed in succession. Once again it might have been easier to ask her to build a rocket ship. Jerlyn's solution to not understanding was to not start. Finally, I asked her to draw me a girl with red hair, a red nose, blue blouse, a white petticoat and pewter shoes. Jerlyn drew the Nanny Etticoat pictured with the riddle below.

She still didn't understand where this was really going as I asked her to sweep up the hair in a wind blown fashion and slowly point the feet outwards so Nanny is standing in a somewhat unnatural position as her pewter shoes were growing longer. Finally, in frustration I made her promise not to laugh and took my best shot at drawing a candle, flame and pewter candlestick holder which is the solution to the riddle. It is unfortunate that my drawing survived and Jerlyn's first great success did not. The morph no longer exists unless Jerlyn still has a copy.

After that Jerlyn accepted that if Bill Gates could do it, she could too. She was a marvel to watch as she learned several computer languages and put what I believe was one of the first coloring books on a website. By the time she went to college, the student had become the master and I pretty much let her run with any idea she had.

She is still active as a designer and you can follower her on her Facebook Fan Page, Design Lady NYC

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bird of a feather

One of my Favorite Mother Goose rhymes is "Birds of a Feather" which my mother used to recite all the time when she thought my friends were leading me astray.

Actually this is an uplifting verse as you have the choice of choosing the kind you wish to associate with.


This blog is about bringing Mother Goose Rhymes to the e-media. I worked with a young artist 10 years ago and we created a Mother Goose web site as did many others.  One of the best which is still on line is the complete volume By Blanch Fisher Wright.  Of course this book is still in print and promotes the common sense wisdom of the ages. It also contains many verses which are no longer politically correct, sexist or violent. Still the common sense wisdom of the best of the verses should be preserved for our children.

Mother Goose was originally published in French in 1697 and a few years later in English.  The 1791 Newbery edition contained fifty-two verses, each with an amusing but sometimes irrelevant moral added, and each illustrated with a tiny woodcut. But, for most living adults, a hard-copy of  The Real Mother Goose by Blanch Fisher Wright (in reprint) is still the standard and for good reason. 
The Real Mother Goose: Includes a Read-and-Listen CD (Read and Listen)

The Kindle versions have no illustrations no matter how Amazon Promotes them ($4.79)

I did my first picture book on Kindle (Pippa and her iPad by John Boyd) as I was amazed to watch my 3 year old proficiently using her parents iPad in a natural manner and deriving hours of pleasure from it.  I know which side of the digital divide and computer literacy all my granddaughters are on and I am glad that my children are preparing their children to survive in tomorrow's technological world. 
Pippa and Her iPad

Pippa's education started in a normal way as she wanted to snuggle with her Mom and Dad while they were reading and both parents started downloading applications like coloring books for young people.  What utterly amazed me when watching my grandchildren is that parents cannot share their Kindle with their children because their are very few if any illustrated children's books that have been formatted for that media.
Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite - Latest Generation

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan on publishing "Our Mother Goose, a Piture Book for Kindle" with art by Jerlyn Thomas. Kindle owners will then be able to encourage chidren to snuggle and read on Kindle and cross over the digital divide.