Another well-loved picture book is now available in digital form. Crow Cottage Publishing has released the digital and audio enhanced version of Moonsnail Song, which was originally published in 1994.
Written by Sheryl McFarlane and illustrated by Sheena Lott, Moonsnail Song is the story of a girl named April who daydreams her way to her favorite place in search of elusive moonsnail shells.
Here is a short behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the book originally came to be and how it has evolved in its digital incarnation.
Q: Sheryl, you wrote Moonsnail Song after camping on the west coast with your family. What prompted you to write about a moonsnail?
A: My daughter found an empty moonsnail shell and on the way home she and her sisters took turns ‘listening to the sea.’ As a former science teacher, I explained that the shape of the shell simply distorted sounds, but they would have none of that. It got me thinking about the power of the imagination, and I found myself working on Moonsnail Song the next day.
Q: Sheryl, how did Sheena Lott become involved?
A: I really enjoyed working with Sheena on Jessie’s Island, our first book together. I knew we shared a passion for the west coast and I was sure she’d understand what I was trying to achieve in the text. I talked to my editor and she agreed.
Q: Sheena, can you remember how you felt when you first saw Sheryl’s text for this project? Did it resonate with you in some way?
A: Sheryl described the images so well in her poetic text and made it very easy for me to translate words into watercolor illustrations. I enjoy painting west coast themed children’s books and working again with Sheryl was an easy decision. Incredibly, the day before I received the text, I was scuba diving off my local beach and witnessed a migration of hundreds of moonsnails. I had never seen anything like it in 20 years of diving. It was a good sign.
In the summer of 2013, Stephen McCallum of Crow Cottage Publishing approached Sheena and Sheryl about releasing a digital version of the book. Both women were thrilled at the opportunity.
Q: Sheena, did you have to make changes in the art to take Moonsnail Song digital?
A: I didn’t have to make any changes to the artwork itself, though Stephen did crop a few images for the digital format. Through his computer wizardry he was able to add and blend simulated watercolour washes to increase vertical or horizontal dimensions. As well, he changed the layout of some of the text to balance the cropped format.
Q: Sheryl, this digital version also has enhanced audio. How was that process for you?
A: We spent a few hours laying down separate sound tracks for each page, sometimes doing multiple takes to ensure the narration was just right. The background seascape audio was layered over the narration later. Then Stephen sent me the file to proof. There were a few small tweaks, but nothing serious. The finished e book is so polished. It’s something we can all be proud of.
Crow Cottage has also released another picture book illustrated by Sheena Lott – Midnight in the Mountains written by Julie Lawson. Sheryl and Sheena plan more digital releases with Crow Cottage in the near future. For now, look for Moonsnail Song in the iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/moonsnail-song/id713288514?mt=11
Author Sheryl McFarlane has written more than a dozen award-winning books for kids and teens. Many of them celebrate the west coast where she lives. If she hadn’t become a writer, Sheryl says she probably would have continued her career as a teacher because one of the things she loved most about teaching was sharing stories with children. Visit her website: www.sherylbooks.wordpress.com
Renowned artist Sheena Lott combines gallery exhibitions and children’s book illustration. Her watercolors and oils express her love of the outdoors and the coastal lifestyle. Sheena wanted to be an artist by the time she was nine, and selling her first commissioned painting (a landscape in oil) to her teacher when she was 11, really spurred her on. Visit her website: www.sheenalott.com