Sparky, our favorite firefly, has reached superstar status! The Sparks club mascot will appear on iPhones, iPods and Androids everywhere—not to mention Kindles, Nooks and iPads! It wasn’t easy to achieve this acclaim. He had to work his way up from small beginnings.
He first starred in the Sparky Shines His Light storybook in 2009. Awana President/CEO and author Jack Eggar saw promise in the young bug. (Though Sparky’s 35, he doesn’t look a day over 29.) Two other adventures followed, Sparky Frees the Flea and Sparky Bops the Greedy Bug.
But things really started to happen when his producer, Joel Fulkerson, thought he’d do well on the small screen. He believed in Sparky from the beginning and is thrilled with his success. We were excited to get an exclusive interview with Joel.
Q: Joel, how did you come up with the idea for a Sparky storybook app?
A: We wanted to see parents and kids interacting together. Since Sparky Shines His Light was already in storybook form, we thought making an app would take that vision even further.
Q: Why was Sparky chosen to appear in the app?
A: Kids love Sparky, the Awana Sparks club mascot since 1976. He's an energetic and endearing character. It seemed like the perfect choice!
Q: What about this app will appeal to children and their parents?
A: The story is engaging and has lots of fun hidden features for kids to discover. Parents will love it because of the valuable lesson it teaches. They can listen or read along with their children – in either English or Spanish!
Q: What can kids learn?
A: Thankfulness -- just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Kids are just like Sparky – not always the best at everything. Sparky teaches them to be thankful with how God made them.
Q: How does the app work?
A: The app is an interactive version of the hardcover book. It has a "read to me" function and a "read it myself" function – in both English and Spanish. As you read through it and touch around the screen, hidden facts and animations pop up to make the story even more exciting.
Q: Why did you decide to develop the Sparky storybook in app form?
A: It's amazing how fast media travels! Making the app is like strapping a rocket ship to the storybook. It has the potential to introduce Awana and Sparks to a whole new audience.
Q: How was the app developed?
A: First, we created storyboards. Then we brainstormed actions that would enhance the story. God gave us an amazingly talented young lady who narrated the book in both English and Spanish. We then gave the storyboards to our developer, Paper Tower, along with the art, direction and audio. They built it into an app development software. After undergoing tests to get all the bugs (no pun intended) out, it was ready to go.
Q: How can it be used?
A: You can take it on the road or use it at home. Churches can also hook an iPad 2 to a TV through an HDMI cable and show it to their whole Sparks club. Kids can wow their friends and invite them to club. Parents can browse the Sparks Web page through the app to learn more about Awana.
Q: Where can people get the app?
A: They can download it immediately from iTunes® and the Android Marketplace®. It will be available soon on the Barnes and Noble's Nook Color™ and the Amazon Kindle Fire™.