After I finished reading Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest to my son (again), we decided to visit John Lechner's website to see if there was a new tale from Burrwood Forest on the horizon. While there are no new Sticky Burr books in the near future, we were delighted to finds something new, very new! John Lechner's Elfbook: The Curious Journey is an internet-only, interactive story that combines elements of a book, a film and a game. And, it's a great story!
It takes about ten minutes to experience the whole story. Like the chambered nautilus shell embossed on the cover of a book that begins this tale, the story spirals in on itself. On top of a creamy background that is textured like the page of a book, the black and gray story unwinds. When an image from the story glows red, that is the cue for the reader to click on it and move the story forward.
A flash of light from the top of a distant tower and the approach of a flying beast lead the Elf on a journey that takes him underground and into a secret library where he sees images of a kingdom that was once on the waterfront and a girl who could talk to the sea creatures.
The intermittent bursts of red on the neutral page are both exciting and entrancing as Elf goes on his journey and you wait to see what will happen next.
The story has sound effects and a really wonderful, music, both referred to as sound design, by Tony Lechner, that adds to the drama of the story.
John Lechner is the art director at FableVision, an online children's media company started in 1996 by the picture book author and illustrator Peter H Reynolds that is worth taking the time to explore with your kids. As he says on his website, Reynolds would rather be known for his mission "to use media to tell stories that matter and challenge us to reach our full potential" than anything else. Besides his work for FableVision and his picture books, Lechner has been making films for his own website. Be sure to check out my reviews of John Lechner's books.