by Holly Fink, Ruckus Media Staff Marketing Specialist
What’s a word that starts with ‘F’? FUNNY! Alan Katz writes funny stories and songs for children—and his first app for kids is EXTREMELY funny! He's also the voice behind our new app, Andrew Answers, so I recently sat down with him and talked about the upcoming app that hit iTunes today.
A little bit of background about Alan, who has been a TV print and comedy writer for more than 30 years. He is the author of a ton of books for kids, including the award winning Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs and Are You Quite Polite?, as well as OOPS! Don't Say That Word and many others. He created and hosted “That's Right, That's Wrong!” on XM Kids radio. Alan is also a six-time Emmy nominee for his work on “The Rosie O'Donnell Show” and various Disney and Warner Brothers animated series, and has contributed to network and cable shows including “The Tony Awards,” “The Grammy Awards” and numerous game shows and specials.
What is the story behind Andrew Answers?
Well, the story is that I have four extremely creative, extremely wonderful kids who we engage in entertaining dialogue all the time. Not comedic dialogue necessarily, but taking conversation in very usually creative ways. I don’t’ remember if it was one specific conversation, but some of my most successful books have come from conversations with my kids. I remember engaging the kids in conversations that led me to Andrew Answers.
What makes Andew Answers unique?
I think Andrew Answers is the story of a boy who is asked a series of questions and enthusiastically gives the very best answers and yet finds himself continuously challenged to satisfy the authority figures in his life. He’s on a roller coaster ride and can’t get off.
Is this your entrance into digital media?
This is my first app. I’ve always been enthusiastic about every new Apple product and every new means of creativity.
How do you feel about traditional reading versus this new type of digital reading?
Books are fantastic, fantastic in every way and will remain so. I hope that in my life and in my kid’s life times, no one ever gives up on the notion of traditional books-- in your hand, under a tree, in the car. A story like Andrew Answers could have been a traditional illustrated picture book -- there’s an interactivity to it that the app brings to life. It offers exciting possibilities for kids who enjoy using their creativity and imagination because as Andrew is continually challenged, so are they. Andrew is a young boy but he’s pretty much any student who’s ever been asked a question in front of a class by the teacher and had to provide the answer.
I’ve read Andrew Answers in quite a few school districts this year without the visuals, without the interactivity that Ruckus has put to the story. Kids anticipate Andrew’s answers, they anticipate what he’s going to say and they delight in his continued eagerness to please. Kids want to be right; kids want to give the right answer. I think that the twist of Andrew’s Answers is no matter how hard Andrew works to give the right answers; he’s still challenged further and further and further. Are the authority figures in his life wrong? Well, I don’t know if they’re wrong, but they’re not listening to him in a way adults should be.
Did you come up with the interactive part of the story?
The entire app was all a collaborative effort. The folks at Funny Garbage have been such a joy to collaborate with…working with Emma Dryden, who’s an incredible editor, and knows what kids enjoy and knows how to make my work as strong as possible, as well as working with Rick and Jim and the folks at Ruckus, and the Funny Garbage people who are putting it together. Several brainstorms have turned it to a piece of work, in a relatively short amount of time that I am so enthusiastic about, so proud of. It’s always a joy to put something on page whether I type it or hand write it and work and work with talented illustrators and publishing folks and turn my story into something that I can hold in my hand. Turning Andrew Answers into an app that is interactive and just seeing the delight on my own kid’s faces has told me that we’ve done it well and we’ve done it right. I can’t wait to hear reactions from kids all over the country who will get a chance to experience it.
Head over to iTunes today to pick up your copy of Andrew Answers.