Halloween is coming!

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep is a funny fairytale picturebook perfect for sharing at Halloween. Watch Rascal’s animated trailer for this delightful book by Robin Newman and Chris Ewald, Creston Books.

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep trailer from Cynthia Nugent on Vimeo.


The King’s Ears at NordCHI 2016

ke-child-responseMy paper on how classroom testing informed the design of The King’s Ears has been accepted by the International Workshop on the Future of Books and Reading in Human-Computer Interaction at NordCHI in Gothenburg, Sweden, October 24, 2016. The committee has been very flexible, allowing me to attend remotely and present my paper by skype on October 24.

Publication delay for The King’s Ears


The app is nearly complete, and just needs final sound files installed and a few minor tweaks. Unfortunately, getting funding for this last part of the project took so long that my lovely programmers have had to accept new jobs.  Hopefully these final changes can be made soon and the app can come out before the end of 2016.

The King’s Ears app beta complete!

Finally completed and sent in the beta of my thesis story app, “The King’s Ears”, to the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream. Fingers crossed that it passes inspection and qualifies for the 2nd phase of funding. The app is the creative portion of my hybrid creative/theoretical thesis for the MA program in children’s literature at the University of British Columbia, Canada. I’m applying ideas formulated by picturebook scholars (especially Maria Nikolajeva, Perry Nodelman, Lawrence Sipe, and Schwarz) to the creation of the additional modes afforded by the iPad. It is incredibly inspiring to be working with Katarina Jovanovic’s story, Philippe Béhà’s art and the amazing voice of Terry Jones. And I’m so fortunate to be working with such a creative and diligent team: designer, illustrator, and animator Elisa Gutiérrez, and programmers Judy Choi and Trevor Robinson.


photoshop lasso tool workaround

Like many Wacom tablet and Mac users, I found my photoshop tools weren’t working properly after upgrading to Yosemite. Even after downloading the latest wacom driver and installing Adobe’s White Window Workaround plugin my lasso selection tool often conks out. Designer and author/illustrator extraordinaire, Elisa Gutiérrez, showed me how using the paths palette can be a substitute when the lasso tool isn’t working.



a new story app by Chris Haughton

Am waiting excitedly for a new app by one of my favourite authorstrators, Chris Haughton. In the meantime, he shows how to make a collage squirrel in the wonderful Guardian kids’ section, How to Draw, which features regular tutorials by famous illustrators.
Fox and Sheep, who will putting out Chris’s app, also publish brilliant Heidi Wittlinger’s Nighty Night and Little Fox, as well as the innovative Petting Zoo by Christoph Niemann.

Rascal Media’s Favourite Picturebook trailers

Many picturebook trailers are little masterpieces. I’ve noticed that what often distinguishes the professional picturebook trailer from the amateur one is sound, including great music and professionally recorded narration by real performers. I find it remarkable that the animation technique can be very naive or simple and the trailer can still be a very beautiful and professional work of art if the sound is to a professional standard. Clean, beautiful, imaginative sound is much more important than the sophistication of the animation technique. The trailer for 13 Words by Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman is the best demonstration of this that I can think of. The animation is minimal but the sound is incredible and the thing that truly animates this piece of trailer heaven.

Another example of superb sound paired with a beautiful but technically simple animation is Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton.

I was thrilled to discover that I could buy and download the amazing music that Matt Wand created for this trailer.

Here’s the Rascal Media youtube playlist of favourite children’s book trailers. Included are a couple of amateur ones that I thought deserved honorable mention. And here is my vimeo album that includes some trailers of Portuguese publisher Orpheu Negro. I love them all!

How to place an animated Gif in your WordPress header

I discovered a great tutorial on how to make an animated gif in photoshop. You can see it here. I followed the tutorial to make the gif you can see in my header image. Mine is a little annoying, so I’m going to tinker with it. But back to the topic:  many people find it difficult to upload to their WordPress blog an animated gif that actually moves. Here’s how to do it:

Size and colour mode are important in ensuring your gif animates. When you make your gif, make sure your colour mode is RGB and the dimensions are what you want them to actually be on blog.  (The WordPress twenty eleven header is 1000 x 288 pixels.) If you resize or crop after you upload, your gif won’t animate. For a visual step-by-step, there is a rambling but very useful video tutorial by a nice man called Alan Levine here.

After you’ve made your gif, sign into your blog, then choose Dashboard > Appearance > Header. In the resulting screen upload your gif.  Now here is an important step: after your gif uploads, you’re given a choice of  two buttons that say something like – I’m paraphrasing – “Crop and Publish” or “Publish your image as it is”. Choose the second one because cropping is death to animation in this WordPress procedure. Let me know if that helps.