Created by babel and 391.org, Animalamina, a collaboratively constructed work of multimedia poetry for children, consists of 26 pages of flash-based poetry organized around the letters of the alphabet. The key aim of this project is to introduce a younger audience (5 - 11) to a variety of styles of digital poetry, animation and interaction, through the familiar format of an animal A-Z. As the project’s “background” page notes, this work is situated within a tradition alphabet primers that stretches back over 500 years. This background is noteworthy precisely because of the tradition’s combination of pedagogy and play, instructing new generations in the mechanics of emerging techniques and technologies. Specific innovations introduced in this recent ABC are animation, audio, interactive content, non-linearity and chance.
The poems are hidden in 26 interconnected scenes which are revealed through various types of animated, visual and generative poetry, and game-type interaction. Each scene represents a specific animal/poem, and is revealed by interaction within the scene. Each scene has been designed to be different from the others in the style of narration, illustration and interaction, to create a series of unique environments that are exciting to traverse and uncover. There are two styles of play: in the 'game' version, the reader chooses their own path through the scenes, and progress into new scenes is rewarded by the corresponding letter at the bottom and the ability to jump back to that scene at choice. In the 'teaching' version, all the animals are accessible from the start with the cheat button (the ladybird/ladybug at the right hand side of the starting Alligator scene).
Animalamina is eclectic in feel and operation, incorporating paintings, photography, drawings, three-dimensional renderings, and mixed-media images as well as offering many different ways to read, interpret and interact. All in all, this contemporary take on a centuries old literary form offers many surprises, reaffirming the interdependence of human expression and innovation, and offering delightful lessons for children young and old.