When I received the galley copy of Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham, I thought “Ooh cool, it has an app, I’ll give the book to The Critter to read and if he likes it, I’ll read it too”. A couple of days later as I rushed to a lovely luncheon hosted by the folks at Penguin Readers, I quizzed The Critter on whether he liked the book and he said “Yes, it’s interesting – I’ve read three chapters and I want to see what happens next”. I can tell you that a nine year old doesn’t get three chapters into a book in less than forty eight hours without it being quite interesting, so I made sure that I would have plenty to report from the lunch to continue that interest. Kids have so much instant gratification with their iPads, XBoxes and 3-D movies that parents really have to encourage reading.
So now I’m at a lovely table at the Peninsula with the author and many people who love books for young people, and I’m blown away by the personality of said author. Skip Brittenham is one of those people you come to understand once you’ve lived in an entertainment town for awhile. I call them an insider’s insider. This species of person has been behind the scenes of some of the most acclaimed creative people in Hollywood, yet I’d never heard his name. There will never be a reality show starring Skip – he mainly got into the entertainment law business because he didn’t like wearing ties. He understands that writing is a lot of work. So much work that wife Heather practically dared him to write the YA novel, saying “It’s too much work, you’ll never do it”. His first books were graphic novels on which he collaborated with veteran illustrator Brian Haberlin, one of which is “the longest original full-color graphic novel ever published”. Haberlin has again partnered with Brittenham on Between Worlds to create twenty illustrations for the book that react to an augmented reality app that absolutely blew me away!
I’ve tested the app in the short videos above in my own living room so that you can see how the experience relates to a normal setting. For those who say “great, but that will take away more reading time playing with the gadgets”, fear not – the app ONLY works with the book. The YA reader must read along for the characters to evolve. There won’t be much of a problem getting that to happen, the worlds that main characters Mayberry and Marshall magically travel to through time and space are destined to become classic escapes like Narnia or The Hobbit.