July 13, 2011

'Project Spy Kids' with Author Hazel Edwards and Illustrator Jane Connory

I'm delighted to have Australian Children's Author Hazel Edwards and Illustrator Jane Connory on Books for Little Hands. You may be familiar with Hazel's popular picture book,‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake.’ I'd like to Congratulate Hazel on the film version that has just premiered at St Kilda Film festival and was screened at the Edinburgh Festival last month. Today we are looking at Hazel and Jane's fabulous eBooks, 'Project Spy Kids.'

When You Also Have a Young Family, How do You Co-Design e-books for Kids?

Illustrator-Designer Jane’s View:

I have two young kids who are as much at home on the iPad as they are at home. They are always grabbing for my mobile devices and I am happier when they sit and read the eBooks I have created rather than watch the movies I have downloaded.

Combining reading with new technology makes it interesting and fun for all the young digital natives out there!

Illustrating picture books is my real love and the chance to illustrate the covers and simple chapter books for Hazel’s stories was a wonderful opportunity. Plus we live in nearby suburbs but Hazel and I also Skype.

I could also ‘test’ on my daughter

I love drawing characters .

I have a home-based business but I also lecture on ‘graphic design’ in sessions at Holmesglen TAFE.

Author Hazel’s Viewpoint:

School holidays. My 10 year old grandson and his mate were to cook ‘hippo footprint pancakes’ on camera at Channel 31 ‘s ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ while I read my picture book to screen.

Serendipitously, I met graphic designer Jane Connory and her children, playing in the park. Innovative Jane lectures in e-skills amongst other graphic subjects, wanted to illustrate children’s books and followed up with her portfolio.

I’m a formatting tragic, but have a backlist of books. My author website (www.hazeledwards.com) was undergoing a major overhaul as I learnt how to upload my own material.My daughter Kim was, and still is, teaching me. I was aware I needed help in re-formatting selected past print titles so they would be accessible on all e-readers, plus they would need new covers and updating.

What inspired you to write the 'Project Spy Kids' series?

Author Hazel's Viewpoint:

Literacy is an area I am passionate about. Hero Art, the sleuth in ‘Project Spy Kids’ is an ace problem-solver but is challenged by reading. ‘The Frequent Flyer Twins’ are international Asian-Australian ten year old sleuths.

As an educator I had always supplied activities with my books, and wanted to consolidate these on my own web-site. Also, readers of my picture books like ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’ (the film just premiered at St Kilda Film festival and was screened at the Edinburgh Festival last month) had no idea that I wrote adult non-fiction or junior mysteries.

What steps did you take to create your eBook series?

1. Creating a series name and using the same cover but with a different colour, linked the titles. Thus ‘Project Spy Kids’ was created. Aware that the cover, title and one line descriptor were the only clues, the covers had to be enticing for the age group.

2. Jane would create the e-formatted books and new covers and would merchandise the illustrations on Red Balloon or elsewhere in t-shirts, mugs and logos. http://www.janeconnory.com/p/gift-shop.html

3. Jane also formatted my rough ‘How to Design Your Own Mystery’ resources. This has become the MOST valuable download for parents, giving a follow-up activity involving writing and problem-solving skills..

4. As a former teacher, reading outcomes matter, so we’ve listed them.

5. Jane experimented with a FaceBook page for the titles .

While aware some schools do not permit use of Facebook, we’re still experimenting with new ways of encouraging reading.You can ‘like’ us if you wish.

Own Face Book Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Spy-Kids-Series/181162638598927?sk=wall

6. Picture books are more complex as e-books, and on hold. Currently my website has links to the e-books for sale by my publishers and also to their print books,

7. I’m featuring a monthly print book for sale from my site.This month’s is ‘The Business of Writing for Young People’ because many parents with young children like to write and request mentoring.

That park meeting with Jane has been a year-long apprenticeship to put up our trial e-books. Now, some literacy skills will be shared via the website.

And we hope, new readers (of the human variety) will be created.

Jane’s Viewpoint:

Being able to learn new technology as it appears has become part of my job as a graphic designer, and collaborating with Hazel on this project was no different.

Hazel is an ideas woman and envisaged these two series of books as eBooks without either of us really fully comprehending what this would entail. It was a great opportunity for me to illustrated the covers in Adobe illustrator and format the documents into books in InDesign. I then had to teach myself how to produce these files as ePub documents and navigate the process of marketing the books.

A steep learning curve but the idea that we are forging our own path is exciting.

I now also have the opportunity to teach this new concept of publishing to my graphic design students at Holmesglen Institute. Maybe they’ll be teaching their employers a thing or two in the years to come.

What are the titles of your eBooks?

Project Spy Kids is one series title, with 10 year old Art, as the hero.

* 978-0-9871078-6-2 – Winning a Giraffe Called Geoffrey

* 978-0-9871078-7-9 – Mindspaces

* 978-0-9871078-8-6 – Birds on the Brain

* 978-0-9871078-9-3 – Zoo Poo Clues

Browse http://www.hazeledwards.com/shop for e-books.

Illustrated & merchandise designed by Jane Connory

Hazel Edwards is an Ambassador for the 2012 National Year of Reading & also for the Victorian Premiers’ Reading Challenge.


Karen Tyrrell said...

Congratulations Renee on this insightful interview.

Fascinating to learn the processes in developing Hazel's latest book :))

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment, Karen. Hazel and Jane have done a marvellous job at making their eBook range, exciting, educational, and accessible.

Jane Connory said...

Thanks for everyone's support!

Unknown said...

You're welcome Jane. Thanks also for visiting my blog and following :)