Albany, Western Australia Australia (PressExposure) October 30, 2006 -- Childhood has changed dramatically over the last 20 years.
Children donât spend their spare time playing outdoors, in parks, around the streets, at friendâs houses. Not like they used to.
Spare time for children is now spent in front of a computer screen, and for all the benefits the Internet has brought with it, stealing our childrenâs innocence has been one major negative many parents find hard to deal with.
Watching movies where people are being killed is one thing, but having their young children able to kill and maim thousands of people in a virtual world from the comfort of their own home is a concern parents donât know how to deal with.
Reading young children stories at night before bed has gone out of fashion, and an industry that relies on children reading right through to late adulthood is bracing itself for a dramatic reduction in readers from our next generation of young adults.
In an effort to combat this, and to help give children access to a vivid, playful imagination of their own instead of what they see as the branded, mass violence on offer in the vast majority of âvideoâ games, a group of childrenâs writers and artists have banded together to change things around.
http://www.chocmint.com is an online creative studio with artists from around the world, collaborating to produce quality childrenâs e-books for the worldâs children.
E-books are given away as free downloads and also sold, as fully illustrated âturn the pageâ books parents and their children can enjoy together.
âWe were just starting slowlyâ explained Chocmint owner Rob Daniel, a childrenâs author living in Albany, Western Australia. âThen it just all took off, with people buying the books on offer as fast as we could create them. Word has really started to go around, and we probably werenât ready for it. We have taken several books off the market to re-do them already; not the content, just the structure of how the books are put together. Heaps of new books are nearly completed. Itâs so exciting working with writers and artists around the world we would never have otherwise met, if hadnât been for the Internet.â
Rob also tours primary and high schools in Australia, running highly effective creative writing, memory and self-esteem workshops, and has bookings with artist and friend Dave McCleery for a tour in Australia, Europe and America in 2007.
âChildren can do anything. They know this when theyâre young, but as they get older they start to forget. This tour is a BIG reminder for them that anything in their lives is possible, and we demonstrate this to every child, everywhere we goâ Rob said. âWe never get enough of being able to do this for young people.â
Dave McCleery teaches caricature drawing, cartooning and illustration, using a fun, easy going style that children immediately identify and learn with. Together they are known around the schools as Dan and Dave, using childrenâs ideas and improvising each session with high energy and inspired ideas.
âI never had a say in life as to whether I became an artist or not. Since I was a small boy, I could see life between the lines with textures, depth of field, shadows, shapes and colours. My mind has always been awash with creative energy and I am truly inspired when I workâ Dave said, while drawing a truly cruel depiction of Rob to use on their tour poster.
âHe looks like a jolly Gollum, doesnât heâ Dave quipped.
With artist Elizabeth Stringer in England, Rob in Australia and Dave travelling, they are joined by members from India, America, Asia and other parts of Australia, and have recently welcomed Edinburgh artist John Arnott into the group.
âWe are all prepared to work with children who send in their written and artistic workâ Rob said, âWeâll help them get it to a publishable quality, and maybe add it to âSomething Different.â
Something Different is a unique e-book for children by children around the world. It is a project designed to publish stories children write and illustrations they create, that would otherwise get thrown away or lost.
âSo much great work is discarded. At Chocmint weâre looking to rescue these stories, and publish them as an e-book and sell it from the website. All proceeds from these books go to help fund an orphanage in the town of Kitgum, Uganda, where Murray Kidd is almost single handed trying to save children from being kidnapped and forced into guerrilla armies from as young as seven years old. Itâs a chance for us to help children, help children.â
If you would like to know more about the work being done at chocmint, all contact details are available on the website at: http://www.chocmint.com