Ridge Writers on Books: ’Have an Interactive Post Halloween’

By DONNA McCrohan Rosenthal

Ridge Writers on Books: ’Have an Interactive Post Halloween’Last month Goosebottom Books brought the latest in interactive technology to one of our oldest celebrations, Halloween. “Horrible Hauntings: An Augmen-ted Reality Collection of Ghosts and Ghouls” (Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. William Maughan, full color, 23 pages, Goose-bottom, hardcover, 2012, $21.95, ages 10 and up) starts with a QR (for “quick response”) code – one of those arrangements of squares with dots in the middle that you click on to get to an app, website or promotional offer.

In this case, the click connects with a free download that summons ghosts who wander through a dark abbey, spooky woods, ominous hallway, the Tower of London and the Oval Office. The app enables readers to hold a tablet or smartphone over each illustration to see the Headless Horseman, Bloody Mary, Amherst Poltergeist, Abra-ham Lincoln and other eerie spirits emerge and move menacingly in 3D – accompanied by sound.

In one story, a flick of the finger along the tablet or smartphone screen sends chairs, an umbrella, vases and soup pots flying off the page.

A joint effort between author Bridges and her brother Jason Yim, “Horrible Hauntings” combines these amazing effects with well-written and carefully researched text. Bridges describes the result as an example of “stealth education” because “these are historical ghosts. But as importantly, instead of a new technology competing with the printed book, you will finally see a great use of new technology to enhance the printed book. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Also interactive for Halloween and beyond, “Horrorgami: Creepy Creatures, Ghostly Ghouls, and Other Fiendish Paper Projects” (Chris Marks, full color, 128 pages, Running Press, paperback, 2012, $13.00) and “Knitmare on Elm Street: 20 Projects that Go Bump in the Night” (Hannah Simpson, full color, 128 pages, Running Press, paperback, 2012, $17.00) recall an era when “interactive” would have meant opening a cookbook and baking a cake, or studying a manual and earning a Boy Scout badge.

Yet here, following the step-by-step instructions produces a Franken-stein monster crafted from folded paper, laptop cozies, Haitian voodoo dolls and an army of yarn zombies.

Now that Halloween has put you in the mood, nothing says that feeling has to end. All three books provide fun that can last all year whether you brandish a tablet, smartphone, scissors or knitting needles. To borrow Bridges’ words, it’s the best of both worlds.

This weekly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at High Desert Haven and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, the Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and from the official website www.planetmojave.com.

Story First Published: 2012-11-14