Media Life: Auburn author expands into the wide world of apps

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn pop-up book creator extraordinaire David Carter is flexing his imaginative muscle in the app world. The New York Times best-selling pop-up book author has teamed with Wilton, Conn. app developer Ruckus Media Group to come up with a colorful, shape-centered educational game that invites toddlers and pre-schoolers to find different colored dots hidden in a wide variety of interactive playspaces. Targeting the phone and tablet market is something new for Carter in an emerging, paperless world. On the books and paper front, Carter’s “Bugs in a Box” series has sold 6.5 million copies in 12 countries so he has a large fan base to build on for his entry into apps, titled “Spot the Dot.” The Ruckus-Carter collaboration has created an app that combines iPad’s touchscreen abilities with sound and animation. The goal, says Carter, is to send youngsters on a journey through a mesmerizing landscape of simple yet beautiful shapes. Each level gets progressively more challenging and complex. And the locations of the dots change each time the app is restarted so it’s a new game each play. While their attention is on iPad fun, they’ll be learning about colors by reading, seeing and touching. Also onboard for Carter’s first app as producer is Marc Cheshire, Carter’s veteran editor and art director. The end creation is a translation of the creativity and complexity of Carter’s pop-up books into the digital world, Ruckus CEO Rick Richter says. Good company Auburn’s Valen Cover is in some famous company these days. The non-profit University Kidney Research Organization has named her as its second national spokesperson, joining Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole. Both are kidney transplant recipients and both are passionate about telling their stories at a time when kidney disease research remains underfunded and transplantable kidneys are hard to come by. Cover, 28, founded the South Central Pennsylvania chapter of the polycystic kidney disease PKD Foundation and has advocated at both the federal and state legislature. This past New Year’s Day, Cover was one of the riders on the Donate Life float promoting organ donations at the Rose Parade. Now she’ll be getting a national stage with the Los Angeles-based UKRO. And the Auburn architectural firm employee won’t even have to sing a note. Following her life-saving kidney transplant nine years ago, Cover said she made it her life’s purpose and primary goal to help in the cause of fighting kidney disease. “It is my passion and I believe that when passion and purpose join together, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” Cover said. New life for Auburn classic Veteran newspaperman Bill Wilson died three years ago but his work is living on. The Placer County Historical Foundation has just reprinted Wilson’s 462-page “Gold and Schemes and Unfulfilled Dreams,” copies of which can now be purchased at the Book Haven in Auburn. Wilson, who wrote about Placer County’s past and present for nearly a half a century in papers including the Auburn Journal, loaded “Gold and Schemes” with 224 Auburncentric stories going back to before the Gold Rush. An award-winning author on his subsequent book on Wendell Robie, Wilson brings to life local names like Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Rattlesnake Dick and Yankee Jim among others. He also tells the tales of a roster of early Placer communities that includes Deadwood, Clipper Gap, Towle and Johnson Ranch. Wilson was one of those constantly curious newshounds who, unlike many, never had his heart hardened. There’s a lot about Auburn between the pages of “Gold and Schemes” but there’s also a lot about someone who told the area’s stories for so many years. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or (530) 852-0232.