An Insight into Ink Robin

Ladies and gentlemen! I’m very excited to introduce a new feature on the blog today: Q&A with app developers from around the world.

I can’t help but be amazed by just how many countries the apps we use as a family come from; far more in fact than the children’s books we buy. With this in mind I thought it would be great to embark on a blogging world tour visiting app developers along the way.

First up, we’re heading to Canada, to visit Jo from Ink Robin. I think Ink Robin’s apps are really strong in storytelling, inventiveness, and attention to detail. Their latest release, Piccadilly’s Circus, is a fabulously funny tale of what happens when the circus ringmaster catches a cold and the rest of the troupe have to carry on without him. I’ll let Jo tell you more…

Tell me a little bit about Ink Robin, and what makes you tick?

We really are three friends who enjoy working together, and who are lucky enough to do what we love, which is creating fun stories for kids. We love a good story, and we do have a weakness for quirky, humorous illustration. We’re also really into bikes, travel and good coffee.

What’s the story behind Piccadilly’s Circus?

We’d wanted to write a circus story for a long time. So when we worked with British illustrator Adam Larkum on our first book (‘Will & Kate’) we thought his sense of humour and quirky style would be perfect for a circus book. We wrote ‘Piccadilly’s Circus’ with him in mind.

The storyline itself – it’s about a circus troupe who get into a big argument when someone has to take over from the ringmaster for a night – is just something that made us laugh. We always look for stories that have lots of potential for silliness, and we really enjoyed writing this one.

What is the kids’ app industry like in Canada?

It’s pretty small at the moment. We think Vancouver-based company Loud Crow make beautiful apps, and another company we’ve admired is Moving Tales, who are also in BC. We’re always on the lookout for fellow app creators!

You say on your website that you believe in “the magic of that moment when a parent reads to their child”. Why are your apps good for parents and children to read together?

Whether you’re reading a print book or a storybook app, the most essential ingredient is a good story. It’s important to us that – above all – our stories are good!

We love the way the iPad can bring a story to life, and we think that adds to the reading experience, but the fun of the interactivity should enhance rather than distract from the reading experience. That’s certainly our goal when we sit down to create.

What has been your favourite reaction from a child to one of your apps?

It’s often the simplest things that kids respond to and enjoy – the sheep noises in ‘Will & Kate’ always elicit a lot of laughter and that makes us happy (we quite enjoy those sound effects ourselves, if we’re honest). But the most satisfying reaction is always simply the desire to read the story again.

What magic button would you like to see on an iPad to add a new feature that it can’t do now?

Certain people in the office would love the iPad to be able to change nappies (our in-house tester is a 1 year old) but failing that we’d settle for something that played us different music according to the weather. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

What’s next for Ink Robin?

There’s lots we’re really excited about at the moment. Our next book, ‘The Hippo, The Rhino, the Elephant and Me’ is currently in production and should be out later in the autumn. We’re also working with Toronto illustrator Colin Jack – who is fabulous – on another project called ‘A Rabbit’s Tale’ which is all about an eccentric rabbit who learns an important lesson. There are more books planned for next year, so we’re busy but really enjoying it.

Thanks so much to Jo for answering all my questions.  You can find out more about Ink Robin and their books at They have a great blog there too. Don’t forget to read my review of Piccadilly’s Circus where you can also win one of two free codes courtesy of Ink Robin.