Lyka's adventure: Lyka and the secret forest by Atley Loughridge
Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780143308324
(Age: 6-10) Planet Ahmee is dying, and there's only one robot with a heart big enough to rescue it. Lyka, lovable friend to all living creatures, sets off across the galaxy on a quest to find the answers about the natural world that will save her home from the deadly disaster that is climate change. Leaving behind everything she knows and loves, Lyka must travel through space to the strange and wild land of the scientist who created her... planet Earth! In a high-octane race against time, she will cross all seven continents to find hidden symbols and unlock the knowledge they represent. Will she make it before Ahmee collapses and Lyka's fellow robots are lost in space forever?
But this is not just a storybook. Created by Lance Weiler, it is a multi-modal experience featuring not just the book but also a plush toy that has a special pocket in its heart for the reader to insert their smartphone to download and activate an app that unlocks a lot more to accompany the story including extra story content, activities, and sneak peeks into Lyka's world... (The app can be downloaded without the toy - an activation code is included in the introductory pages of the book.) There are also supporting websites - http://www.penguin.com.au/lyka/ and http://www.lykasadventure.com/ - and the concept is explained on YouTube.
However, it is much more than a gadget-driven, short-lived experience because it has been deliberately created in a partnership between Penguin Books Australia and Connected Sparks to support the Australian Curriculum Sustainability cross-curriculum priority. Lyka travels across Australia addressing key environmental issues using science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). Penguin have developed a range of teaching resources to support this learning and there will be a series of eight chapter books which have all been reviewed by scientists and science teachers plus the Cloud Institute for Sustainability in Education.
This may herald the future face of children's reading and their expectations of it. Multi-modal and multi-media that engages them through real-life issues and interactivity, introducing 6-10 year olds to their world in a unique way.