'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 9 June 2012

Guest Post: Addison's Tales Approductions

What is an approduction? We warmly welcome Berlin-based Australian Jerome Goerke - and his friend Mr Addison - as he talks us through this exciting new ebook concept.

When Kids Book Review kindly asked me to write a little about Wivern Digital and its journey, I wondered if it were not better to let the creator of the Addison’s Tales concept reply. After all, it was Mr. Addison who had first approached me with his bundle of manuscripts and musical ideas at a village fair in Northern England so many years ago. Being extremely shy however, he has asked me to describe how Wivern is helping to bring his Enlivened Rhyme concept to the world stage.
An Enlivened Rhyme, as he explained it to me then, is a poem that comes to life on the page in the form of an illustration that fills with life and music upon the touch of a finger.

“Sounds like magic,” I said, a bit puzzled as to how he intended to do this. Remember, our meeting occurred in the days before the iPad, and making pictures come to life inside a book back then would have required some kind of wizardry.

“Just wait,” he winked, “you will see that it can be done. And you, sir, will surely hear from me again.” With that, he disappeared into the crowd again.

“How odd,” I said, returning my attention to the second-hand porcelain cat stand.

A few weeks later, an enveloped postmarked ‘Calladin’ arrived in my letterbox. The sender was one Cornelius Elmore Addison. Upon leafing through the two manuscripts inside, I discovered they contained sheet music for the songs sung by the characters in his stories.

“Okay, a bit like The Hobbit,” I thought, also noting that the melodies themselves sounded very old and slightly Middle Earth. I particularly liked one titled The Roving Sailor taken from one of Mr. Addison’s included tales called The Riddle of the Jinn.

So I wrote to him suggesting we make The Roving Sailor together into a prototype Enlivened Rhyme. He was very excited, but noting that I was also in the business of wireframing websites, cheekily asked if I could build a web cottage for his cyberpersonality as well. I agreed, and this website was entered into the inaugural Flying Sparks crossmedia storytelling competition held by the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2010.

To my happy surprise, the Addison’s Tales concept placed 10th, so I suspected we were onto a good thing. Mr. Addison had also had some minor success of his own. But something was missing. How could we combine these Enlivened Rhymes on the page just like Mr. Addison wanted?

In early 2011, my high school friend Garth Palmer suggested the iPad as a possible way. A few months later, we founded Wivern Digital in London to build approductions that would combine animation, illustration, interactivity and music. The apps would be released under the Addison’s Tales label, which I felt could legitimately be called the world’s first digital book label until someone came along and proved otherwise.

It is now 2012, and the first book from the Addison’s Tales label, Penelope, has just been released. To help promote Addison’s Tales, Wivern has developed Mack’s World. This website has been built for fans to ‘buy’ their characters from Mack – a mysterious character trader from whom Mr. Addison also purchases his characters

Students need only pay a visit to Mack in their own dreams to discover the craziest storybook character that they then depict in art class. That character should then be trapped in a story written by the student themselves. Teachers also have the option of uploading their students’ characters onto Mack’s World for kids everywhere to decide which is best. After six months, the character with the most votes becomes the protagonist in a freely downloadable tale written by Mr. Addison. The sheet music from the Enlivened Rhymes is also available through Mack’s World.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop Wivern into a production house that continually surprises and inspires with the way it tells stories. For example, we’re testing the idea of story linking, or ‘slinking’, where books like Voyage of the Dawn Star mentioned in Penelope can be read too. 

The next book for younger readers aged 7-9 called Harry the Huntsman also has a very unique version of an Enlivened Rhyme that I personally can’t wait to see released. It captures one of Mr. Addison’s songs in an old fashioned and even magical manner. So check the wiverndigital.com website for news about that soon!

PS – Last year I asked Mr. Addison if he would write something about how Penelope came to be. He said no, however, he has since said that if I can prove there are enough people out there who like his stories, he’ll write a brief letter. I said what about 1000 Likes on Wivern’s Facebook page? Would that do? He said that’s unlikely. I said just wait.