Previous Magazine recently got the chance to catch up with James Huggins, co-founder and MD of new multimedia children’s publishing company Made in Me. They’ve recently launched an incredible piece of software called Land Of Me to help promote child development as well as a way for kids and parents to have a lot of fun! Read on to find out more about this incredible addition to child learning.
Hey there, James! First of all many thanks for chatting with me today. Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell our readers why you’re here with me today.
Hello! Well, I’m the co-founder and MD of new multimedia children’s publishing company Made in Me. We’ve been working with Ladybird on The Land of Me, a collection of creative apps for children. They take the form of an interactive picture book world full of magical places and mysterious characters. They’re available for Mac and PC so don’t worry, there’s no need to have an iPad, although we’re working on stuff for that too. Previous was kind enough to let me tell everyone about The Land of Me as it’s brand new and perfect for anyone with small children and big imaginations.
I have to say, The Land of Me seems like an incredible piece of software. What was the inspiration behind it?
Thanks! As a family with two small children we are always on the lookout for things that combine learning and fun. A lot of the time you get one without the other. With a background in special effects for Film and TV, I started to think that there might be a way to combine it with something that was beneficial for children. A lot of the educational software out there is pretty dry, and even when it’s not it tends to be designed with just the child in mind. So maybe selfishly I wanted something that I could enjoy doing with my kids rather than putting up with stuff because I thought it was good for them. We started talking to educators and teachers and soon we developed the idea that we should create something that would inspire children and families to learn together. 2 years later we have The Land of Me.
I think what I love most is that the computer is just the beginning of the experience. There are loads of printable activities that allow the kids to take their adventures away from the screen in all kinds of fun ways.
Where do you get the ideas for the different stories from?
That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I’m pretty imaginative but it was really just a lot of coffee and chat between myself, Mike Outlaw our Creative Director and a supremely talented character artist Eric Lerner. Rather than discuss particular stories we spend most of the time fleshing out the world and the characters. When you find yourself scheduling a meeting to decide whether Granny Olive should be a snow leopard or a giant turtle, you know you have an interesting job.
Are the characters based on people you know, or are they completely fictional?
Yes! Both my grandmother’s are in there! Granny Olive, the old story-telling turtle and Dodo the dancing otter. Dodo is my mum’s mum and she was ballroom dancing world champion in her youth! So it made total sense to immortalise her as a sottish otter who loves to shake her thing. She was actually very touched.
To you, what is the most important part of early development?
It’s all about play. Play can sometimes be seen as something frivolous that you do when you’re not doing something useful but for young children, and adults to be honest, it is an essential process of developing their creative and communicative capacities. Talking is also incredibly important. So I suppose if I had to say what I thought was most important is that children play and talk with their families. By developing their abilities to be creative, socialise and express their ideas children are laying the foundations for so much of who they are and will be as they grow up.
Do you have a personal favourite when it comes to the chapters of The Land of Me?
Oh no… that question. It’s almost too difficult! Mike the Creative Director refuses to choose as he likens it to picking a favourite child. I love them all for different reasons but I will always have a special place in my heart for Chapter 1 – Shape, Size & Colour. It was the first and we were learning so much but also you just can’t beat a wise Japanese Snow Monkey singing to himself as he sits by the hot springs flanked by a cherry blossom tree. I sometimes have that up on my computer just to relax me… (sigh). I’m thinking of it now. (humming)
What can we expect from Made In Me in the near future?
Well our new partnership with Ladybird means that there’s lots more good things to come as far as The Land of Me is concerned, both digitally and physically, including iPad apps, wooden toys and puzzles. But we’re also working on some really cool ideas connected with interactive picture books. It’s a really interesting area because you have to be think very hard about why you would want to experience a picture book digitally. The real thing provides such a rich and important experience for children and their families that when it comes to something interactive you constantly have to ask yourself,”Does this actually add to the experience or are you better off with the paper version?”. Fingers crossed we think we may have something interesting in the works but watch this space.
Where do you see yourself and Made In Me in ten years?
Ten years!!! Crikey that is a long time. I should really say something punchy and bold right? OK… in 10 years I’d like Made in Me to be one of the most exciting, trusted and beloved children’s publishers in the world.
Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to mention to our readers?
Oh and if you have or know anyone who has small children and would enjoy some creative fun check out www.thelandofme.com. The first chapter is free!
Many thanks, James! And we wish you and Made In Me all the luck in the world.
If you would like to check out Made In Me you can check them out by clicking here.