Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post: Anne Sawyer-Aitch Author of Nalah and the Pink Tiger

Two years ago, if you'd told me that at last my first children's book Nalah and the Pink Tiger would be published, I would have fainted with joy. Once revived (hopefully with ostrich feather fans, while lounging on a velvet red divan) the next bit of fortune-telling would have simply puzzled me.

You (the Visionary) would say to me: "Nalah and the Pink Tiger will not only be a book, but there will be an iPad app."

"A what?" I would have said.The last two words of that sentence were simply not in my vocabulary.

I move in a world of exacto knives, hand-sewing, and heavy-duty staplers. There are orphan pieces of thread on my couch and cut-out stars of paper in my rug, even after I clean. Up until 14 months ago, the word "app" sounded to me like a baby trying to ask for a piece of fruit. My cell phone was like something exhumed from King Tut's tomb.

But one day, while attending a gallery opening, I saw one of my friend's little girls playing with this new-fangled thing called an iPad. Intrigued, I sat down next to her and watched as she drew, read stories, and played games on portable little tablet. I noticed that the books had audio, and that if she tapped certain characters, they spoke or moved.

"Wow, cool," I said.

She smiled and graciously let me try the thing for myself. It was a different experience than a book. It didn't replace the experience of paging through a picture book, where you linger on an image and examine the details. But it was another way of interacting with the art and the story, and I liked that.

Now, thanks to a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council in my home town, my book also exists as an iPad app. It's bilingual (Spanish and English) and it has music by composer Matt Larson and a local jug band named the Mississippi Mudsteppas. My niece Nalah, her cousin Maliah, her siblings and her Dad helped out by letting us record their own voices. Translator Marcela Sánchez did a bang-up job performing the Spanish version. Mighty Media and Scarletta Press put this home-cooked piece together into a really professional app. It's now in the iTunes store.

Really. It's legit. You should check it out.
 Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. She has worked for years with Minneapolis-based groups In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the all-women’s stilting troupe Chicks on Sticks. Anne likes to create all kinds of puppets: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. Nalah and the Pink Tiger is her first children’s book. Currently, she is performing her Nalah and the Pink Tiger puppet show in English and Spanish around MN. She is a recipient of awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Puppeteers of America, VSA Arts MN, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. She lives in Minneapolis with her computer genius husband and a pack of imaginary dogs. For more info:

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