We have a strong affinity for families who are creative collaborators (I wonder why?) Jennie and Josh Book are a husband and wife team who are boldly branching out and making their own wonderfully imaginative children’s story apps. Jennie is a writer and Josh is a veteran art director who has worked on hit TV series’ such as “Bubble Guppies” and “The Penguins of Madagascar” for Nickelodeon, “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West” for Disney, and the recent video game Marvel Heroes.
Why did you decided to collaborate and open Mighty Yeti, an independent animation studio?
We’ve been married for 14 years, and we’ve always complimented each other work-wise – we have individual strengths that the other person doesn’t have, and the two when combined work well. We decided to collaborate and form Mighty Yeti Studios because it was a perfect blending of those talents. Jennie writes, and Josh does pretty much everything else – from web design to animation to coordinating and directing the whole project.
What roles do each of you play?
Jennie writes the stories, and then we both go back and forth on what makes them funny and meaningful, and then Jennie re-writes for a while, and then Josh calls one of the artists from his large talent pool, and then the two of them go back and forth on characters and styles, and then we talk about interactive elements and where to place them, and then Josh works with our programmer to make it all come to life. And there are a thousand things in between, including voice recording and sound effects selection, but then it’s Josh spending hour after hour making the final book app come to life.
What is your mission at Mighty Yeti?
To make entertainment for kids and parents. We want you to laugh and have feelings, and come out of the experience happy that you had it.
You just released your first story app, Mr. Cupcake Has The Sprinkles…tell us about it.
Mr. Cupcake Has the Sprinkles launched as an interactive book app in September 2014 on iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. It’s also available on iBooks and Kindle as a non-interactive eBook. It’s a story about a talking cupcake who’s late for a birthday party, but he keeps getting distracted by a mysterious crunching sound he can’t identify. It’s driving him crazy.
Is there a takeaway message from the story?
“Watch out for tooting platypuses.” It’s actually a really silly story, which is best left to the interpretation of the reader.
Who’s your illustrator for Mr. Cupcake and why was he/she perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?
Eddie Betancourt, an Austin-based illustrator, drew Mr. Cupcake, and there was no other choice but Eddie. Josh met Eddie at the CTN Expo in Burbank, CA, and knew from the get-go that he had a colorful and beautifully irreverent style that was perfect for making Mr. Cupcake come to life.
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
Mr. Cupcake’s ideal reader is anyone who wants a good laugh while reading a fun, silly, and kooky book. And anyone who loves looking at hilarious drawings. And I think kids love both of those things, so they’re our primary audience. But we really wanted to be sure that when parents were reading it to their kids that they’d enjoy it too. And that said, we see the book being used for parent-with-child reading time, and also for beginning readers on their own with the Read To Me function, and for Spanish-speakers toggling it to the Spanish Read To Me function, and for Spanish speakers learning English and for English speakers learning Spanish. It’s pretty versatile, but always fun.
Other than pure entertainment, are there other interesting ways that you story apps are being used?
Our primary goal is to entertain kids, but we want them to learn while they’re having fun, too. We’ve been told that the alliteration in Mr. Cupcake (“Is it a monkey munching a maltball-covered meatloaf?”) is beneficial to speech therapists so they can target certain sounds with kids. We’re also working to make sure that our book apps represent diversity in kids and families.
There are exciting things happening over at Mighty Yeti. Please share what’s coming!
We have an ambitious schedule at Mighty Yeti. We did a Kickstarter back in February for four storybook apps, so that’s what we’ve been focused on delivering. Our next app, “A Shark Knocked On The Door,” is coming out the end of October, and is very different from Mr. Cupcake. More sweet, more touching, less goofy, but still fun and funny. And it too is beautifully drawn, this time by Roman Laney, a talented animator who drew a bunch of sequences for the 20th Century Fox film “The Book of Life.” After Shark we have “Jacob the Gibberish Machine,” and then “Maggie Is Afraid of Monsters,” which will turn the book app standard on its head a little. We’re planning to take that one to the next level.
There are also challenges being an independent studio…Even when the quality of your apps are top notch (and yours truly are!) it’s difficult to get noticed. How can our community help?
Marketing and getting the word out has definitely been our biggest challenge. We’re very active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram – we’ve got social media covered. And still it’s a matter of connecting with that one person who likes our app and will tell their friend, and then that mom will tell her friend, and that person will “share” our post, and so on. It’s a slow-rolling boulder uphill sometimes, but we feel like our apps are good and funny and if people do find them, they will buy them, and they will tell their friends. And then we can keep making more of them.
Finally, if the reader leaves remembering only one thing about Mighty Yeti Studios, what would you like it to be?
That we make funny, beautiful story book apps. And if you have a tablet, you should definitely check us out.
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“Mr. Cupcake Has The Sprinkles” is copyright © 2014 Mighty Yeti Studios. All Rights Reserved.
“A Shark Knocked On The Door” is copyright © 2014 Mighty Yeti Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Mighty Yeti Studios logo is copyright © 2014 Mighty Yeti Studios. All Rights Reserved.