Inventor Promotes New Book Design
Children's books are not designed for storytelling. Just ask Jehan Clements, professional storyteller and inventor. He's the brains behind a new book design that could make storytelling more fun and effective.
That is, if he can find a publisher willing to take on the unusual format. After 10 years persuing patents and publishers, Clements has little to show for his invention.
He has a pile of rejection letters, a patent (issued in 1998), and a few interested but still uncommitted book makers. But he's not giving up.
A professional storyteller for some 30 years, Clements became increasingly frustrated with storytelling, and he blames the books. "The typical children's book makes it difficult for a teacher to read the narrative and show pictures to the class, while maintainig eye contact," he says.
He tried reading books upside down or turning them around, but that distracted his third-grade audiences. After consultations with teachers and parents, Clements came up with his Storytelling Flip-Over Picture Book design.
A FRESH APPROACH
They're printed sideways, double wide, with every other page upside down, and a horizontal flip-over binding. This lets adults read odd-numbered pages aloud, while children see words and pictures on the even-numbered pages.
The design is also good for illustrators, Clements says, because a two-page spread now fits on one. The gutter that normally cuts through two-page spreads is eliminated.
Clements and four partners formed the J.S. Clements Corp., Tarrytown, N.Y., to redouble his marketing efforts. The firm is also trying to get some children's book writers to endorse the concept.
"We're now approaching the intellectual properties divisions of publishers," Clements says. "A number of them have told us the patents have merit." Clements declines to name interested publishers, but says there are "several."
Clements is also working on a new educational tool for classroom use. His My Very Own Do-It-Yourself Storytelling Flip-Over Picture Book lets kids use computer clip-art to author their own books. The software teaches children to write and illustrate as part of a class project.
- Warren Chiara