Benjamin Brewster is the little boy that could. In the Dandelion app, Benjamin “begins his journey as a slight figure whose confidence slouches from the weight of the world on his shoulders,” states Protein One’s website. Yet, Benjamin’s “stature grows amongst a patch of dandelions that help him become strong.”
Galvin Scott Davis, director of digital innovation studio Protein One in Sydney, Australia, and creator of Dandelion, said in an email interview that the app came about after one of his sons was being bullied at school.
“I couldn’t find any children’s books on his shelf that seemed to deal with bullying,” he said.
Naturally, being the director of an app development company and a writer, Davis said he saw it as a good opportunity to “write something that could encourage parents and children to discuss the issue.”
While the story is not meant to offer any solutions, Scott said that it is there to prompt children to discuss how bullying can handled by using their imagination. In the app, the reader can help Benjamin overcome his fears and adversity, and interact with the pages, like blowing the dandelions to help make Benjamin’s wish come true.
“Once I had the story written, it was obvious that it would be best brought to life on the iPad where children could interact with the character, Benjamin Brewster,” said Davis.
Davis said, “Like most people I was subject to some forms of bullying at school. There are so many different strains of bullying nowadays that it’s hard to pinpoint one solution.”
“Each case needs to be viewed on its own merits, and just as important as it is to help the victim, it’s important to try and understand why the bully is acting in such a manner,” said Davis, adding that the book is part of a series and the next books will further tackle bullies.
Scenes are pencil drawn, scanned, painted digitally, and spiced and animated, according to the website. And each page is navigated by interacting with a “retro instamatic viewfinder mechanism.”
Benjamin is also drawn as a blank canvas, with no face, “so that the reader can place themselves in his shoes during the story, “states the website.
The young boy, Benjamin, attends “The School for the Misguided,” which is a place that “echoes classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales and is proudly “Burtonesque,” according to the website.
Davis said that at the heart of the app it is a book—which Scott wrote first, comparing it “the same vein as ‘Where The Wild Things Are,’” because “it does not talk down to the kids.”
On the iPad, the interaction with the reader, in helping Benjamin overcoming some of the obstacles was “planned out in a typical hand/eye coordination game method such as a ‘Fruit Ninja’ style interaction,” said Davis.