Being asked to write a story about an astronaut, my first thought was, how does a young boy (or girl) get into space? I played around with a few ideas – which did end up in the final story – but ultimately came to the conclusion that, well, none of them would work for this particular character. That left only one thing for it…an alien would have to come and collect him! When I was young, if I’d read a story about a young astronaut that didn’t contain at least one alien in it, I’d think the writer had missed a trick. Put that together with the fact that the reader gets to DRAW parts of this story; well…it was a no brainer.
With all these things in mind, the story evolved rather organically. Engine Creative – who built the app – gave me pretty much free rein in terms of the plot, but the biggest challenge was to weave in educational elements into the story in a fun and engaging way; in a way that a child wouldn’t become suspicions that they were actually learning while they played. Having seen the app for the first time at the launch party, I was so impressed with how the guys at Engine Creative had incorporated these elements into my story. I had great fun playing on the various games they’d made to accompany the text – who wouldn’t love feeding a burping alien?!
As primarily a children’s book author and illustrator, it was really lovely to see my story come to life on screen – it’s the first time that’s happened to me. I work digitally myself, on my own illustration work, but Augmented Reality is something I know very little about, so I find it all rather baffling and amazing to see these characters jump right off the page.
As a child, I would always be drawing. I had all sorts of gadgets; a Spirograph, airbrush pens that came with a huge hand pump, a fancy set of templates to design my own dresses. All sorts. But nothing that took my drawings and magically bought them to life in the story I was reading. I’m not sure I would have thought that possible as a child.
It’s been wonderful to work on a story – alongside my picture books- that takes on a new method of storytelling for Marty and the Alien. Budding artists will love it, and it will hopefully encourage reluctant drawers and readers too. I know my fellow illustrator friends and I have certainly been having a lot of fun with it!
Elissa’s next book Little Adventurers Book 1: Leafy the pet leaf is published by Walker Books in September. The first of an exciting new picture book series with Philip Ardagh.
A Little Bit About Drawy Book…
Drawy Book is an interactive story that combines colouring and educational games designed for children from five to ten years old. The ‘Marty and the Alien’ story was created by English Children’s author Elissa Elwick. “Marty loves astronomy and gazing at the stars. Since he was little, he has always dreamed of discovering the universe. One night, while camping in his back garden, Marty meets someone unexpected… a visiting alien!”
Kids can unlock even more activities in the app by using the supplemental colouring book (£9.99), scanning the book’s pages triggers additional animations, games and narration.