You Are Stardust (December 2012), Owlkids’s app adaptation of Elin Kelsey’s book of the same name, is a prime example of how digital application technology can vitalize what was otherwise a mediocre book.
Its transparent message of interconnectivity is illustrated through numerous parallels made between the reader and the natural world. For instance, “The water swirling in your glass once filled the puddles where dinosaurs drank.” Kelsey’s poetic text makes sweeping assertions based on current science — “Each time you blow a kiss to the world, you spread pollen that might grow to be a new planet” — but overall, the content is more spiritual than factual.
In print, the photographs of Soyeon Kim’s mixed-media dioramas (crafted inside handmade wooden boxes using linen fabric, Japanese paper with fiber and gold flecks, ink drawings, dried flowers, and fishing line, and more) appear deflated and do little to fill the space left by the abstract text.
However, the digital transformation recaptures the depth and texture of the original art. Each of the seven dioramas includes multiple scenes from the story and can be rotated and manipulated through touch-screen technology, allowing both a bigger-picture perspective and close-up exploration of the intricate details. The added animations, sound effects, and twinkly musical score pair with Kim’s art to finally realize the magic of interconnectivity the text so reveres, but was unable to capture in print.
The app includes read-to-me/read-on-my-own options, a make-your-own-diorama activity, a note from the author, and a behind-the-scenes look at how Kim constructed her dioramas.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for primary users.