I first heard about Heckerty some 15 years ago, on a rainy Saturday in Vancouver, BC. I was staying at the Hotel Vancouver, with Jan Ziff and Alan Davidson, and Jan was telling stories about her mom Ann Rachlin.
Back then, Jan was looking for a way to bring some of her mother’s characters — notably a green-skinned witch named Heckerty — to life, but the technology was costly and we wondered if it would be possible to do it in a way that would allow families with young children to afford it.
Fast forward to this morning, when Meet Heckerty, the first title in the Love, Heckerty series of mobile apps, officially launched. It’s been in beta and pre-release for a few weeks, and is already #1 on Amazon.com’s list of educational apps, but today is the official launch date. That’s good, because it means that my son Jason can finally download it himself onto his brand-new Android phone (I was thinking ahead and upgraded his phone just last week). And maybe we’ll finally be able to pry the tablet we loaned to Aaliyah, his girlfriend’s 5-year-old granddaughter, away from her.
You see, she is so completely under Heckerty’s spell that she’s been sleeping with the doggone thing, so that she can be sure to say goodnight to Heckerty and Zanzibar (Heckerty’s cat) before she falls asleep. I should point out that young Miss Martinez, who is bi-lingual, was having a bit of trouble learning to read English. That was before she got this app, where each word appears on the screen as it is pronounced in Jan’s impeccable BBC-broadcaster’s voice.
Suddenly, the light has gone on for Aaliyah, and reading is just part of a new game. I think this is going to happen for a lot of children — so if you see this, and you have youngsters, spend the .99 to download Meet Heckerty now. You won’t regret it!
Here are all the details from the press release that went out this morning.
Meet Heckerty™, is a new mobile app for Apple™ iOS™, Android™ devices including Kindle Fire™. The app, the first in the Love From Heckerty series, immerses children in the magical world of Heckerty™, a green-faced witch, and her cat Zanzibar™. And while the kids play, Heckerty teaches them to read, increases their vocabulary and develops their learning skills.
Love From Heckerty’s eponymous character, used in children’s education for over 20 years in the UK, was created by Ann Rachlin, Britain’s Royal Storyteller and an internationally acclaimed music educator, writer, recording artist, lyricist and speaker. Now Heckerty is the star of an app that combines the quality of traditional English storytelling with 21st century technology and creative talent.
The stories are recorded by renowned BBC broadcaster Jan Ziff, the founder of Broomstick Productions, and creator of the Meet Heckerty app. As she reads the delightful stories, the text appears one word at a time so children learn to recognize words and build vocabulary. They can tap on any word to hear it read aloud.
The stories are designed to engage and enchant children over three as they discover how Heckerty got her green face, then follow her and her faithful feline sidekick on their hilarious adventures. Kids will embark on a journey into a magical realm, with lots of animation and more fun stories, games, puzzles and coloring books will be added to the series in the coming months
“Meet Heckerty is an educational tool that kids will love, merging technology, storytelling and learning,” said Jan Ziff of Broomstick Productions. “Today’s mobile devices enable Meet Heckerty to provide kids with a multimedia adventure they can enjoy anywhere and at any time.”
“I have been teaching for more than 10 years, and I wish Meet Heckerty had been available from the beginning,” said Amy Stovall, a mother and educator in Phoenix, AZ. “Children will be captivated by the characters and their stories and will remain fully engaged, even if they are prone to boredom or over activity. Parents will discover within a few minutes that Heckerty offers a wonderful balance of education and entertainment.”
Meet Heckerty is now available on iTunes, the Amazon Android store and soon on the Google Play store. It is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad, as well as Kindle Fire and Android devices running ARM™ 7 or later processors. It is available for a limited time for only $.99
Broomstick Productions Inc. is based in Scottsdale, AZ.