Last year, Milwaukee-based artist and writer Stacey Williams-Ng wrote a children's book called "Astrojammies" that became available as an iPad app in December.
So far, the response to the book has been positive and Ng is already working on another. "Astrojammies" will also be released this fall as a hardcover book.
"Astrojammies" is written in simple rhyme and tells the story of a little boy whose is able to launch into the universe and visit new planets thanks to his magical pajamas. The language is captivating, due to words like "vomit" and "goo" that are mixed in with sweet, playful descriptions.
The book is interactive and allows kids to touch the iPad screen and journey beyond the basic page. For example, on one page, if you touch the main character, Jimmy, he spins 360 degrees and gets propelled into space.
Like the copy, Williams-Ng's paintings are bold and colorful. "Astrojammies" inspires kids to soar into the land of imagination and features a classic "there's no place like home" ending. It's a fun read, one that would appeal to both genders and just about any age. Local musician Steve Dixon created a dreamy and hopeful instrumental piece of music that accompanies the iPad story.
OnMilwaukee.com recently checked in with Williams-Ng and asked her more about the writing process and the iPad book itself.
OnMilwaukee.com: What inspired you to write this? How did you get the idea?
Stacey Williams-Ng: One day when we were out somewhere, my son asked me to draw him an astronaut, and I wasn't sure how to draw an astronaut's uniform so I scrawled a little boy in his pajamas on the moon's surface and said, "There, it's a boy astronaut. He went all the way to the moon in magic pajamas!" So an idea for a book was born.
OMC: How long did it take to create the book?
SWN: Writing it was a breeze, because I had it all in my head and just needed to perfect the rhyming verse. The illustrations are a different story, though. Because it's an interactive storybook, it was sort of like making a picture book and also sort of like making a film. I had to create a storyboard for the production team. When it came time to make final art, I had to think about the paintings in terms of page compositions, but then as a second step I needed to paint animation sequences. There are more than 40 paintings in the book altogether, and the illustrations took about a month, which is lightning fast. More than one per day. So all told, the entire process was about three months. And for regular picture books, it's often as long as two years, apparently.
I'm not entirely sure about this, but someone said I was the "first Wisconsin author / illustrator to publish an interactive storybook app." Kind of cool.
OMC: Are you going to write another one?
SWN: Heck yeah.
OMC: How do you get paid for creating this book?
SWN: Only if people buy the app. Go download the app, folks.
OMC: What else are you doing these days?
SWN: Now I'm illustrating another storybook app, for a self-published author who loved "Astrojammies." Its working title is "How to Hide a Dinosaur," and in it, the young reader is invited to try and hide a giant brontosaurus behind trees and other objects in order to sneak him home to be a family pet.
OMC: Who does "Astrojammies" resonate the most?
SWN: "Astrojammies" has evidently become quite a hit with parents of kids with autism and other special needs. Part of that is because of the nature of the iPad tablet itself, but also my storybook was considered especially friendly for this readership, and I never even predicted that. It's been a happy surprise.
Stacey Williams-Ng will speak at the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival in October.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.