Since my first encounter with vooks, I’ve been skeptical. Is this as far as the big-budget content developers are willing to push the medium? I’m using the term broadly to cover not just Vooks® but any digital narrative with a shallow, lackluster interpretation of how video and text can combine to tell a story. I’m talking about a platform that bills itself as the future of reading but actually amounts to little more than ebooks with video illustrations.
Then I found Moonbot’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
I admit, with some embarrassment, that the idea of children’s vooks had occurred to me, but only as a passing thought. I had seen the work Angela Chang is doing with the iPad, which still makes vooks seem unambitious and unoriginal. But in truth, there really is nothing wrong with a picture book, especially if it’s beautifully executed.
Morris Lessmore is a very beautiful children’s book with wonderful voiceover, fantastic scoring, and breathtaking video clips. There are a few interaction gimmicks, touch things to make something small happen, but the lack of substance in the interactions is overshadowed by the polish and care that has gone into the work. And not all of the interactions are shallow: one page gives a young reader an opportunity to play the piano, and gives adults a preview of the interactive lessons that might be more thickly interweaved into children’s books in the future.